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Grave expectations

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 03 May 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:956
  1. Wendy Moore, freelance writer and author, London
  1. wendymoore{at}

    A dearth of suitable bodies has long been a cause of sleepless nights for surgeons. Today, members of the Royal College of Surgeons may toss and turn in anxiety over a predicted 30% shortfall in the 1000 bodies medical schools need annually. In 1828, surgeons giving evidence to the select committee on anatomy were just as concerned at a 200 shortfall in the 700 cadavers needed by the London schools alone.

    Naturally enough the source of bodies for dissection has changed—as has the reason for the sleepless nights.

    Before the 1832 Anatomy Act, …

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