Tuesday 6 December 2016

Revealed: the human body in all its intricate glory

Published 02/02/2012 | 05:00

This exhibit is an individual running
This exhibit is an individual running
A human skull and facial blood vessels
This exhibit is an individual playing sport
A human heart
A set of lungs belonging to a smoker
A set of healthy lungs
A human foetus

IT could be the wake-up call that every smoker needs.

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A vivid new exhibition gives a surgeon's-eye view of the human body in all its intricate glory.

And the organisers hope the shocking sight of a smoker's diseased lungs will encourage others to snuff out the habit.

The blackened lungs, and a separate lung cancer, sit alongside the lungs of a healthy non-smoker. In between is a box where smokers can bin their cigarettes -- hopefully forever.

And drinkers don't get off lightly either, with a healthy, smooth liver contrasted with a scarred cirrhotic liver.

Junk food lovers with a strong stomach should look out for the aorta covered in congealed plaque.

Cheryl Mure, education director of The Human Body Exhibition, which opens at Dublin's Ambassador Theatre today, said she hoped it would inspire visitors to take better care of their own bodies.

"The difference between the two is so dramatic -- the smoker's lungs being completely black and covered in scar tissue and cigarette tar and nicotine and the healthy ones looking like they could take a big deep breath," she explained.

"That juxtaposition of healthy organs mixed with diseased organs is a way to make that learning memorable," she added.

The exhibition uses the bodies of people from China, all of whom died of natural causes and who donated their corpses to medical universities for educational purposes.

Once they are no longer being used for educational purposes, they will be returned to China for cremation.

The exhibition also features a number of embryos and foetuses which died of natural causes before birth. The first embryo -- just four-weeks-old -- is barely visible.

However, at this stage in development it already has a four-chambered heart which is beginning to beat.

Embryos at six, seven and eight weeks follow, the last of which shows the face and neck beginning to take shape.

The exhibits have been preserved by 'plastination' before being dissected to show individual tendons, muscles, bones and organs.

This process involves the removal of all the fluids from the body and their replacement with a silicon polymer that seeps down to cellular level, where it hardens. It is a painstaking process and it can take as long as a year to preserve a body.

"I hope people come to this exhibition and walk out the door with an appreciation of how complex our bodies are, how beautiful they are and renew their commitment to taking better care of them," said Ms Mure.

Adult tickets cost €20, students and over-65s are €16 and children €12. They are available from Ticketmaster and usual outlets nationwide; a service charge may apply.

Irish Independent

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