Health

Surge in body donation enquiries

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Media captionTessa Dunlop's film about her father's decision to donate his body to science

Medical schools have reported a huge rise in people wanting to donate their bodies after they die.

The Human Tissue Authority said an item on BBC1's The One Show in May had led to a four-fold increase in calls.

One anatomy department in Newcastle said it had received 532 calls since the programme aired, compared with just 50 in the previous month.

Surgeons expressed gratitude at the generosity of those donating their bodies to medicine.

Tessa Dunlop filmed a report for the programme talking about her father's decision to bequeath his body to medicine.

The HTA, which is responsible for regulating body donation and for advising members of the public about how to go about it, said calls increased from 123 in the month before the programme to 505 in the four weeks after.

Medical schools around the country have also reported a "phenomenal" response.

Keele University said it had seen a 250% rise in enquiries.

The Universityof Birmingham said they had received five times the normal enquiries most of which had since signed up to their register.

And Leeds, East Anglia and Nottingham Universities all reported a substantial increase in figures.

Gratitude

A spokesman for Manchester University said they were "extremely grateful for the public spirited people who donate their bodies in this way".

"A service of thanksgiving, which the university held in April to recognise the generous action of recent donors, was greatly appreciated by relatives and friends and may have contributed to the increase in enquiries experienced locally."

Image caption Medical schools rely on people donating their bodies to train young doctors

Dr Roger Searle, director of anatomy at the University of Newcastle said those calling to enquire about donation wanted to know exactly what would happen after their death.

He said although it meant a funeral could not take place straight away, they always encouraged family members to have a memorial service.

"After completion of studies, we arrange a cremation or funeral, which the family can attend."

Professor Vishy Mahadevan from the Royal College of Surgeons of England said they were always conscious of "its great debt" to those generous individuals who bequeath their bodies for medical study.

But he added it was difficult for departments of anatomy to meet the need for bodies for training.

"The news that there has been a recent surge in the number of individuals who have expressed an interest in body donation is most welcome."

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