Family tells of trauma as dad’s body not accepted by Sheffield medical school after ‘unforgivable’ error
The family called it an 'unforgivable' error that saw them have to 'tout' their father's body to alternative medical schools.
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A Sheffield family were left 'touting' their father’s body around after they were not informed of a medical school's change in policy on accepting cadavers, they claim.
The Medical Teaching Unit is the anatomy teaching facility at the University of Sheffield School of Medicine, Dentistry and Health and Faculty of Science. For a number of years, the unit has used bodies that have been donated to teach human anatomy to undergraduate and postgraduate students.
But a family, which would like to remain anonymous, has told of a 'traumatic experience' which saw them having to make new arrangements after their father died and was not accepted by the University of Sheffield, despite having his Human Tissues Act donation forms signed off.
A member of the family said: "I cannot understand or forgive the decision to make the policy change without the courtesy of notifying those that the medical school had accepted as donors.
"It was a traumatic experience as we believed that my father and I had done everything to make sure his wish to donate his body to medical science had been thoroughly completed, both when he signed the relevant forms and when I worked with Stockport Hospital to ensure his wish to donate to Sheffield Medical School was implemented.
"The disrespect towards the donors who have made a considered decision to generously donate their bodies to the medical school is, in my view, unforgivable.
“I was both distressed by the failure to notify my father and at having to tout his body to other medical schools. I was angry at the implications for other families who would be similarly affected and who might not know how to challenge or address the issue."
The university has apologised for the upset caused, and helped the donor's family to make alternative arrangements.
Professor Ashley Blom, Vice President and Head of the Faculty of Health at the University of Sheffield, said: "We understand a person's decision to become a donor is not taken lightly, and we are sorry to have been unable to fulfil this request.
"Like many medical schools in the UK, we are changing how we deliver anatomy teaching and moving towards using other methods, including computer-assisted learning.
"We started the process of contacting donors about these changes at the first possible opportunity, once we had received information about the alternative options available to them. We are very sorry that this family was not informed about these changes sooner and for the upset this has caused.
“For many years, donors have played an important role in the teaching of human anatomy at our University and we are extremely grateful for their generous decision to support the education and training of our students and healthcare professionals."
The university is in the process of communicating these changes with all individuals who have registered to bequeath their body to the University of Sheffield, however anyone with further questions can contact [email protected] or by telephone on +44 (0)114 222 4642.