July 27, 2015
Should we harvest blood from the dead?
Scarcely a week goes by without news of a blood shortage somewhere in the United States. Summertime in particular sees supplies on the wane. With families on vacation and schools out of session, the American Red Cross regularly witnesses a dip in donations. But with one simple change, blood shortages in the United States could be drastically reduced, or perhaps eliminated entirely. It's a solution seemingly out of Count Dracula's playbook: drain blood from the dead.
Unpalatable and macabre at first glance, the idea actually makes a lot of sense. Roughly 15 million pints of blood are donated each year by approximately 9.2 million individuals. Over the course of the same year, about 2.6 million Americans will -- sadly -- pass away. If hospitals were to harvest the blood from a third of those people, roughly 4.5 million liters would be added to the reservoir.
Contrary to what you might think, blood from cadavers is not only usable, but quite safe.
"For six to eight hours, the blood inside a dead body remains sterile and the red blood cells retain their oxygen-carrying capabilities," Mary Roach reported in her book Stiff. In fact, as Roach further described, "For twenty-eight years, the Sklifosovsky Institute [in Moscow] happily transfused cadaver blood, some twenty-five tons of the stuff, meeting 70 percent of its clinics needs."
The idea has never caught on in the United States, however, primarily out of public distaste. Tampering with the body of a deceased individual frequently evokes ethical conundrums and moral aversions in the minds of many.
However, draining the blood from a body is hardly out of the ordinary; it's actually a regular part of the embalming process…..
….. staff might have to be trained in a more primitive technique. After obtaining familial consent and conducting necessary tests, a larger needle attached to a more voluminous tube would be inserted into the jugular vein at the neck. Then the body would be tilted downward so the blood flows out with the aid of gravity. Simple, effective, yet perhaps a tad morbid…
According to the American Red Cross, someone in the U.S. needs blood every two seconds, and more than 41,000 donations are needed each day. Taking blood from cadavers could ensure that no patient is ever deprived of the life-giving blood they need.
Is this any different from organ donation?
July 19, 2015
“When My Father Died It Was Like a Whole Library Had Burned Down"
The quote from the lyrics of Laurie Anderson’s song World Without End is also the title of this sculpture by Swedish artist Susanna Hesselberg via A Library That Plummets into an Abyss.
July 13, 2015
The ride, called 'The Cremator', offers the morbidly curious to opportunity to find out what it might feel like to be cremated using a system of hot air and light projections.
The experience begins with a journey through the 'morgue', following which they are placed in a coffin and put on a conveyor belt…..They are then carried through a chamber filled with hot air, to simulate the flames used during cremation. Screams and shrieks echo through the chamber, and everyone who tries the ride comes out drenched in sweat. Although whether the sweat is from fear or from the extreme heat has not been made clear.
'I am never coming back,' said a number of women on leaving the ride, while laughing nervously. Another added: 'It was horrifying.'
“That is probably the most alien, jarring thing about working in Africa: life is much cheaper. More to the point, death is very close to you. We're very removed from death here. Someone can die at 89 in their sleep here and it's called a tragedy. In Africa, I find that I'm often exposed to it. That's part of why I wanted to live there.”
James Verini, a freelance writer based out of Nairobi, won the 2015 National Magazine Award for Feature Writing.