Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Christmas 2020: Grey’s Anatomy

The face of CPR

BMJ 2020; 371 doi: (Published 10 December 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m3899

Linked Editorial

Judging history’s heroes and monsters

  1. Stephanie Loke, dental core trainee year 21,
  2. SL McKernon, clinical lecturer/specialist in oral surgery2
  1. 1Liverpool University Dental Hospital, Liverpool, UK
  2. 2School of Dentistry, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
  1. Correspondence to S Loke stephanieloke94{at}

She is known by many names—L’Inconnue de la Seine (Unknown Woman of Seine), the Mona Lisa of Seine, Resusci Annie, and The Most Kissed Girl in the World. She might not have lived to tell the tale, but she has transformed training for medical emergencies and saved many lives. She is the face that we have all kissed during practice for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), but do we ever stop and wonder about the story behind this mesmerising face?

A mysterious death

In the late 19th century the body of a girl was pulled from the Seine in Paris. No one knew her name, her history, or her story. From the firmness of her face, she was predicted to be around 16.1

Her body was transported to a mortuary and placed on public display for identification.2 This was normal practice, and public viewing of unclaimed corpses was a popular attraction. In a volume of engravings from Unknown Paris (1893), one commentator said, “There is not a single window in Paris that attracts more onlookers than this.”3

The pathologist who performed an autopsy on the body was so …

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