Tag Archives | Anatomy

Indiana Man Arrested For Selling Stolen Brains On eBay

stolen brainsThe thing about the brains of nineteenth-century mental patients is, you can’t help but collect them all. Via CNN:

The arrest last month of a 21-year-old suspect uncovered, police say, a macabre scheme to steal the brains of dead mental patients and sell them online. The suspect was peddling some 60 brains. And yes, amazingly there were customers.

Suspect David Charles allegedly stole more than 60 jars of brain in October from a warehouse space at the Indiana Medical History Museum, the Marion County prosecutor’s office said in court papers Thursday. He is accused of breaking into the museum and taking jars of brains and tissue from autopsies performed on patients in the 1890s.

Charles was arrested December 16 after authorities organized an undercover sting at an Indiana Dairy Queen.

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Severed Whole Human Leg Washes Ashore On Chicago Beach

human leg

What was it running from? The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

A human leg was found on a Kenwood neighborhood beach Wednesday afternoon on the South Side, Chicago Police said. Police were notified at 2:42 p.m. about a human leg on the beach in the 4700 block of South Lake Shore Drive.

Authorities said a person walking along Lake Michigan found the leg on the rocks near the lake. The leg was severed from the hip down.

An autopsy was scheduled for Thursday, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. Area Central detectives were conducting a death investigation.

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Scientists Create Bionic Ear With Superhuman Range Of Frequency Hearing

bionic ear

Wearing a pair of these in the modern urban environment sounds torturous. Via Science Daily:

Scientists at Princeton University used off-the-shelf printing tools to create a functional ear that can “hear” radio frequencies far beyond the range of normal human capability. The scientists used 3D printing of cells and nanoparticles followed by cell culture to combine a small coil antenna with cartilage, creating what they term a bionic ear.

“This field has the potential to generate customized replacement parts for the human body, or even create organs containing capabilities beyond what human biology ordinarily provides,” the researchers wrote.

The ear in principle could be used to restore or enhance human hearing. Electrical signals produced by the ear could be connected to a patient’s nerve endings, similar to a hearing aid. The current system receives radio waves, but the research team plans to incorporate other materials, such as pressure-sensitive electronic sensors, to enable the ear to register acoustic sounds.

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The Strange Case Of Edward Mordake’s Two Faces

edward mordakeThe physical manifestation of what we all possess inside? Wikipedia on historical figure Edward Mordake, who allegedly had a second, “evil” face which would spasm, cry, and make horrid expressions:

Edward Mordake was reportedly the 19th century heir to an English peerage. He supposedly had an extra face on the back of his head, which could neither eat nor speak, although it could laugh and cry. Edward begged doctors to have his “demon head” removed, because, supposedly, it whispered satanist language to him at night, but no doctor would attempt it. He committed suicide at the age of 23.

This is the story as told in Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine:

He was a young man of fine attainments, a profound scholar. But upon the back of his head was another face, that of a girl, ‘lovely as a dream, hideous as a devil’. The eyes would follow the movements of the spectator, and the lips ‘would gibber without ceasing’.

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Creepy Medical Cannibalism In Europe’s Past

Res Obscura on a part of medical history which is not secret, yet never discussed, most likely because it is so gruesome:

What did the jars [in seventeenth and eighteenth century pharmacies] actually contain? Things found in herb teas sold today, like chamomile, fennel, licorice, and cardamom — alongside some utterly bizarre ones, like powdered crab’s eyes, Egyptian mummies, and human skull, or “cranium humanum.” I was struck by the degree to which they take for granted the consumption of human bodies as medicinal drugs.

Substances like human fat or powdered mummy were once so common that hundreds or perhaps even thousands of antique ceramic jars purpose-built to contain them still exist in antique shops, museums and private collections. This is no secret, but it remains more or less the domain of specialists in early modern history.

It was a relatively common sight in early modern France and Germany to witness relatives of sick people collecting blood from recently executed criminals to use in medical preparations:

For those who preferred their blood cooked, a 1679 recipe from a Franciscan apothecary describes how to make it into marmalade…[T]hese medicines may have been incidentally helpful—even though they worked by magical thinking, one more clumsy search for answers to the question of how to treat ailments at a time when even the circulation of blood was not yet understood.

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How Much Is My Body Worth?

Via the Guardian, Storm Theunissen discusses her experiment to find out, ultimately learning that we are worth far more dead than alive:

In Britain…there are various legal ways human body parts can be sold. I tried to see how much of the human body can lawfully be put up for sale: by trying to sell as much of my own body as I could.

I tried to sell my hair. I was quoted £50 by a hairdresser in London that specialises in harvesting human hair to make wigs for chemotherapy patients. The British pharmaceutical industry uses many bodily fluids to test new drugs, and I was hopeful for a decent sale upon learning they pay up to £1,750 for 1ml of blister fluid, £1,000 for a cup of saliva and £1,600 for a gram of earwax. The best offer I got was £30 for some blood. Another clinic would have paid me £50 for some skin – if I had psoriasis.

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Should We Amputate Someone’s Healthy Limb If They So Desire?

How far should we go in enabling people to shape their own physical identities? The Guardian on the ethical quandary posed by Body Integrity Identity Disorder:

In January 2000, the mass media ran several stories about Robert Smith, a surgeon at the Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary who had amputated the legs of two patients at their own request and was planning a third amputation. The director of NHS trust running the hospital at which Smith works described the amputation of healthy limbs as “inappropriate”; since then, no British hospital has performed a voluntary amputation.

The first documented case of BIID dates back to a medical textbook published in 1785, by the French surgeon and anatomist Jean-Joseph Sue, who described the case of an Englishman who fell in love with a one-legged woman, and wanted to become an amputee himself so that he could win her heart. He offered a surgeon 100 guineas to amputate his leg and, when the surgeon refused, forced him to perform the operation at gunpoint.

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International Body Harvesting Network Uncovered In Ukraine

Transplanted body parts could save your eyesight, your smile, your ability to walk … but the question is from where they were taken. The Sydney Morning Herald peeks inside a booming new business:

“Two ribs, two Achilles heels, two elbows, two eardrums, two teeth, and so on” … On February 24, Ukrainian authorities made an alarming discovery: bones and other human tissues crammed into coolers in a grimy white minibus. Investigators grew even more intrigued when they found, amid the body parts, envelopes stuffed with cash and autopsy results written in English.

[It] was not the work of a serial killer but part of an international pipeline of ingredients for medical and dental products that are routinely implanted into people around the world … the remains of dead Ukrainians were destined for a factory in Germany belonging to the subsidiary of a US medical products company, Florida-based RTI Biologics.

RTI is one of a growing industry of companies that make profits by turning mortal remains into everything from dental implants to bladder slings to wrinkle cures.

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Heartless: Man Alive Without Heart Or Pulse

heartlessPerhaps in the future, we’ll spend our youth — i.e. the first hundred or so years of our lives — with a heart and a pulse, and our next couple hundred without them. DesignTaxi writes:

Two doctors from the Texas Heart Institute successfully replaced a dying man’s heart with a device—proving that it is possible for your body to be kept alive without a heart, or a pulse.

The turbine-like device, that are simple whirling rotors, developed by the doctors does not beat like a heart, rather provides a ‘continuous flow’ like a garden hose.

If you listened with a stethoscope, you wouldn’t hear a heartbeat. If you examined [the] arteries, there’s no pulse. Hooked up to an EKG, [he'd] be flat-lined.”

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Yeti Hand Returned To Remote Mt. Everest Monastery

_52390062_photo-3Jimmy Stewart, a monastery hidden in the snow capped mountains of Nepal, and the disappearance of an unexplainable, hideous clawed hand. BBC News reports:

A pilot from New Zealand is in Nepal to return a replica of what some believe is the hand of a yeti to a remote monastery in the Everest region. Mike Allsop will fly from Kathmandu to Pangboche Monastery, which sits at 13,123ft.

The originals were stolen from the monastery in the 1990s. They first came to light in the 1950s when an expedition to find the mythical yeti came upon the monastery. Peter Byrne, the leader of the 1950s expedition to find the abominable snowman, said that the hand did not match the skeleton of a human or a primate.

Mr Byrne managed to take one of the bones from the hand out of Nepal to his friend, the Hollywood actor James Stewart, who was on holiday at the time with his wife in Calcutta.

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