Donated to Science to screen

By Grant Jacobs 12/11/2009

Unique medical documentary to screen that follows the people and events involved several people who donated their bodies to medical science, prior to the donors’ deaths, through the medical student autopsies to cremation.

New Zealanders will see it on TV3, Wednesday November 18, 9:30pm. The film is being distributed internationally by the American Public Broadcasting Service.

I was alerted to Donated to Science through Brenda Harwood’s excellent cover story in this week’s Star newspaper. Last weeks edition can be seen at; I presume this week’s edition will be up soon. (For those who read my previous article What the chiropractor said, his advertisements usually appear on page 3 or 5.)

Even if don’t have time to see the film, do view the excellent preview on-line at MIPCOM picks.

The film interviews donors before they died, the medical students in the dissection class (aged 18-19 or so at the time), and the family of the donors, through the process of their bodies being prepared for medical student autopies, dissection, cremation and remembrance services.

I imagine former Otago medical students will recall their experiences through this film, as will medical students from elsewhere. For us non-medics (including people who, like me, considered a medical degree) it’s thought-provoking to see what these young students face.

If the preview is anything to go by, the film deserves a wide distribution. Documentary critics at Realscreen picked it among their picks in MIPTV for 2009.

Update, 12 March 2011: Katrina Stewart has offered this excellent review of the documentary, including her own experiences with her cadaver as a student.

(Disclosure: I met director Dr Paul Trotman some years ago at a networking event and spent some time discussing science-based films. It’s great to see his work coming to the market.)

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