We recently learned of a Michigan startup company that makes display models and test pieces for medical device firms. Why should we bring this to your attention? Because the pieces are apparently very accurate stand-ins for human flesh and bone. The company is Medical Engineering and Design, based in Michigan, founded last year by Robin Williams (no, not the actor) and Michael Zeeff:
An upper torso that includes the upper back, shoulders, neck and head produced in urethane by her company costs between $400 and $700. Real human cadavers start at about $5,000, according to Annie Cheney, author of “Body Brokers: Inside America’s Underground Trade in Human Remains.”
Aside from the cost, Williams said, rules and regulations about the use of cadavers have become much more stringent…
…Zeeff said employees are taught anatomy “one bone at a time.” He said he has faced a steep learning curve as he’s tried to master all of the 400 different bones in the body.
“A full spine will take about six hours to make and contains about 26 individual pieces,” Zeeff said. “As I get to know each step, I’m learning to make a model to make a part.”
Williams said the company carries no inventory because its sales are custom orders – for a replica of a human head with a tumor inside, for example, or a spinal column with a deformity that simulates a real malady. Medical-products makers use such items to show how their products can be applied.
The company is apparently too small to have a website, or pictures, which is really a shame. We’re very curious as to how their human models have nearly twice as many bones as, say, real humans. Still, we bet orders would start pouring in, if people could see their wares online.
The company won’t fill orders that Williams and Zeeff consider morally or ethically inappropriate.
Damn. We suppose “pranks at the nursing station” may fall under that category…
Update: The firm does indeed have a website, and a beautiful one it is, with multiple photos…