Coroners & Body Part Sales: Perspective

Some historical perspective for the case of the New Orleans coroner whose election opponent is accusing him of selling body parts:

Whose body is it anyway?: trading the dead poor, coroner’s disputes, and the business of anatomy at Oxford University, 1885-1929,” Elizabeth T. Hurren, Bull Hist Med, Winter 2008;82(4):775-818. The author, at Wellcome Trust Centre for Health, Medicine and Society at Oxford Brookes University, England. explains:

“This article examines the application of the Anatomy Act (1832) at Oxford University, circa 1885-1929. For the first time it retraces the economy of supply in dead bodies, sold by various black-market intermediaries and welfare agencies, transported on the railway to Oxford. Both pauper cadavers and body parts were used to train doctors in human anatomy at a time when student demand always exceeded the economy of supply. An added problem was that the trade in dead bodies was disrupted by a city coroner for Oxford in a bid to improve his professional standing.”