Donated cadavers are essential to medicine

STERLING, Virginia ? The body broker industry has a mixed record. But doctors gathered in a training room here recently said cadavers that brokers supply can be indispensable.

The six doctors visited the Washington Institute of Surgical Engineering in September to learn how to implant a new spinal device designed to relieve leg and buttock pain.

They practiced on sections of the lower back, about 18 inches long and a few inches thick, taken from adult donors who died this summer. The spines were supplied by an Illinois seller of donated body parts, Innoved Institute LLC, a seminar executive said.

?It?s paramount to have the hands-on experience with the cadavers and bones,? said Ronald Segura, a New Orleans-area doctor. ?And it?s best to do it here, where you can do no harm. I?m very thankful to the people who donated their bodies.?

The titanium device, Superion, is about half an inch long. It is made by Vertiflex of Carlsbad, California. The device relieves pain because it prevents a spine from narrowing too much, he said.

After three practice sessions, Houston-area doctor Stephen Sims said he planned to begin operating on patients within a week. He also plans to donate his own body when he dies.

?It would be risky doing this live on a person without training,? Sims said. ?Unless you have a religious objection, I don?t really see a downside to it. I mean, once you?re gone, your body?s not your soul.?