Thursday, May 25, 2017

Is It Real, or Is It ... Synthetic?

Of all the niche business opportunities I can imagine, one of the nichest is the creation of "synthetic cadavers" - extremely realistic human (and animal) bodies to be used in the training of doctors, morticians, and veterinarians.

Earlier this month I was struck by this headline on the Atlas Obscura website: A Visit to the Synthetic Cadaver Factory, and how could I pass up a title like that? The article details a tour of SynDaver Labs, which according to its website "designs and builds the world’s most sophisticated synthetic human tissues and body parts ... all made from materials that mimic the mechanical, thermal, and physicochemical properties of live tissue."

For hundreds, if not thousands of years, doctors have learned their craft by working on the bodies of the dead - cadavers donated to medical schools for research and training - or of animals with appropriate similarities to human anatomy (dogs, pigs, etc). But animal rights supporters oppose the use of animals, and the supply of human cadavers is limited. Further, a dead human body can't duplicate the behavior and reactions of a live one for training purposes. Therefore, a market for ultra-realistic artificial human and animal bodies has grown up, supported also by the needs of an entertainment industry always anxious for the most realistic possible blood and guts and a funeral industry that needs to train embalmers.

The synthetic human beings designed and built by SynDaver bleed, breathe, and are constructed using hundreds of replaceable muscles, bones, organs, veins and arteries, all designed for maximum realism ...

The company also sells customized partial bodies to accommodate specific training requirements, such as fully-functional chests and spinal columns. You can find the full catalog here, in case you were looking for a gift for the person who has everything. Trust me ... you're glad I haven't included any pictures.

Realism doesn't come cheap, though. According to the article, the cost of a synthetic cadaver can range from about $50,000 to $184,000, and SynDaver sells about 100 of them a year. This may seem quite a high price to pay when a real cadaver can often be obtained for free. However, as a SynDaver spokesman pointed out, a cadaver may be free to acquire, but comes with a raft of other costs, including transportation, specialized facilities for handling and disposal, and a range of religious and ethical considerations that can drive the ultimate cost of the free body into the millions of dollars. "With a SynDaver," he said, "you just need a table.”

Yes, Dear Readers, why try to fool the police watching the HOV lanes with a department store mannequin when you can ride with an amazingly lifelike synthetic cadaver ... a quiet, low-maintenance friend who can also serve (with the right accessories) as a wonderfully life- death-like decoration at Halloween? And it won't waste your time trying to explain away the current administration's latest idiocies, either.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Duckbutt said...

The artificial cadavers seem like a promising alternative to the real thing. Perhaps this idea could also apply to lab specimens for biological labs as well.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Both the real cadavers and the manufactured ones have the aura of creepiness to them. But these can be useful, given shortages of cadavers, Medical schools need not employ body snatchers. And these can be used indefinitely.

Mike said...

I've got two Complex Breast Phantoms on order.

allenwoodhaven said...

I like your suggestion for HOV lanes!

allenwoodhaven said...

I think I remember from college that stealing bodies from a graveyard is called "burking".