In a recent issue of Economic Sociology:The European Electronic Newsletter Michel Anteby of Harvard Business School discusses the considerations involved in building a cadaver market for medical schools and research purposes. Cadavers cannot be bought and sold unlike other things on the market, so unusual approaches are taken by institutions to obtain a regular supply.
A tidbit from the article:
However, trying to address the question of a shortage of cadavers often means facing the taboo on trading human anatomical goods (Delmonico et al. 2002; Scheper-Hughes 2000; Steiner 2006; Titmuss 1971). Blood, organs, and cadavers are generally thought to be better left untouched by market dynamics. Their sacredness sets them apart from other traded goods. As Philippe Steiner recently reminded us in this newsletter, he began researching organ donation because of the stringency of the ban on market transactions for organs (Steiner 2009). In essence, many would argue that blood, organs, and cadavers should not be considered goods.
That said, the demand for cadavers remains strong, and numerous ideas have been voiced to augment the supply. As an illustration, there is an ongoing debate about the impact of using financial incentives for donors or their families to encourage anatomical donations (Clay and Block 2002; Delmonico et al. 2002; Harrington and Sayre 2006; Obermann 1998). Similarly, surveys of potential whole-body donors seek to gain insight into the reluctance to donate and how better to educate potential donors (Boulware et al. 2004; Richardson and Hurwitz 1995; Sanner 1994). By understanding the reluctance to donate, the hope is that the root causes of such reluctance might be addressed.
We recall that Howard Stern once ran a “cadaverathon” on his radio show when news came out that Yale and Harvard med schools were running low on bodies.
Link: A Market for Human Cadavers in All but Name?
(hat tip: WSJ Health Blog)