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Views & Reviews Medical Classics


BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 14 January 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:a3117
  1. Hugh Byrne, specialist registrar, obstetrics and gynaecology, North West Thames Deanery
  1. hughbyrne{at}

    When debate raged recently about presumed consent for organ donation, you might have been forgiven for thinking that the public interest in organ retention and the issue of consent was new. However, body snatchers such as Burke and Hare were in the news more than 100 years ago, transplant surgery is half a century old, and in 1978 a suspense thriller called Coma hit the cinema screens. It is a tale of organ theft on a grand and somewhat implausible scale, but it does reflect the medical technology and knowledge of the day quite well. The plot is supported by accurate medical detail because the writer of …

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