Re: "ethics" of keeping Histo tissue samples

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From:"RUSS ALLISON" <> (by way of histonet)
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Tissue and organ storage.

Sorry, guess I gave too little information at the beginning.
Like everyone else around the world, our histology labs. have
tissue samples, up to and including whole organs, in store for
shorter or longer periods, including idefinitely.
You may or may not have read of the history surrounding a couple
of paediatric cardiology surgeons who had a very poor success rate
and an unacceptable morbidity rate when doing cardiac repairs of
one sort or another (sometimes refered to as the "Bristol" case).
They have both been chastened by the General Medical Council
and one stopped from doing these operations and the other
suspended from so-doing.
Parents of affected childred were vociferous in pursuit of answers to
the charges of poor care and treatment.
After all that had been somwhat sorted, first one then other
mothers became aware that the hearts from their dead children sat
in jars of fixative in hospital laboratories.  This was discovered in a
different hospital - in Liverpool.
There has been a great outbreak of at best surprise, and often
disgust, at this.  It is gradulaly becoming apparent to the public
that this practice is common in all hospitals to a greater or lesser
Claims are now circulating that permission (consent) was not given
or not understood or the implications not understood.
The British public, as far as one can guess but its a pretty good
guess, are unhappy at this practice.  They have, of course, only
heard one side of the argument.
We (readers of histonet and our colleagues, medical, scientific and
technical) have a different conception to the general public.  I do
not believe we can conceive the feelings of some non-medical
person coming accross this practice.
I remember when I first started in a lab my wife coming into the lab,
seeing a large "sweet jar" as we called them, bearing a label "Irene
"oh, look" she said.  "that's Mrs Butt"
"Yes" I replied, completely ignorant of the way she was feeling
about it.
"No I mean that is is Mrs Butt" she emphasised
In the UK, there is undoubtedly going to be major changes in the
specimens taked at post-mortem, in consent forms, in what is
stored, in what is buried and to what use tissue is put, to name but
a few.
We are going to accumulate less tissue, for a start!
Undetakers are going to have more to do, maybe, because there is
talk of retuning organs to the bdy for burial, for example. And more.

That has perhaps, put my question into context.
Russ Allison,
Dental School

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