Skloot Body Thieves

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Body Snatchers In the late 18th and early 19th century, Englishmen later known as “resurrection men” provided fresh corpses to anatomists and inspired the kind of superstition of the “night doctors” discussed in Rebecca Skloot’s, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks; these “night doctors” also changed medicine and surgery forever.
Resurrection men were a group of individuals in England that provided fresh bodies for the anatomists and medical schools as they requested them. Doctors and medical students in the late 18th century were just scratching the surface about understanding how the human body functions, and they needed bodies to dissect to gain a better understanding. At the time, doctors were legally only allowed four to six bodies of …show more content…

Grave robbing consisted of three distinct steps: learning an impending burial, reconnoitering the grave site during daylight, and resurrecting the body. The first man dropped off the other two men near the cemetery and came back to at a designated time to pick up the body and the other men. After the men located the grave site, they examined the grave to return all of the surviving family’s belongings exactly where they were before when they leave the site. They didn’t want anyone to suspect that their family member was taken. They then dug up the grave to reach the coffin. After they removed the lid of the coffin, the body was ready to be resurrected. There were two different methods that the resurrection men used. The first method consisted of the grave robbers using a five-foot-long iron bar with a blunt hoot on one end and a handle on the other. The hooked end was securely fastened under the chin of the corpse so that the men could easily pull the corpse out of the coffin. This method disfigured the body, so the men tried to stay away from using this method because it would cause the value of the corpse to go down. The grave diggers tried to avoid this method which resulted them using the second method. Instead, the grave robbers removed the corpse from the grave by using a harness that …show more content…

Although these “night doctors” were a superstation, they really existed. They dissected and experimented on a countless number of both dead and alive African-Americans, but not all of the experiments had a horrible outcome. Dr. James Marion Sims’s use of slave women a cure for vesico-vaginal fistula (Savitt 344). By chance, he was treating three black servants with the same condition. He also so happened to be treating a white woman that had a malpositioned uterus and suddenly realized that by placing the women on their elbows and knees, he would be able to visualized the fistula and perhaps repair it (345). Once he made this realization, he then asked his subjects if he could experiment on them. They knew exactly what he was going to be doing to them. He didn’t have to force them to try this new procedure because they were desperate for relief. He then sent them home cured. Another example of successful outcomes is the performance of ovariotomies performed by Dr. Ephraim McDowell (346). After the first successful surgery, he perfected his technique on four black women. “The final example of the usefulness of black to physicians in the slave society was the performance of Caesarian operations on pregnant women” (347). The procedure was performed occasionally with few success; but over the years, doctors have perfected the procedure. Today, there are few cases

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