The number of people who have registered to donate their bodies at Byculla’s Sir JJ Hospital’s anatomy department increased from 412 to 1,288 between 2013 and 2016.
The number of cadavers, however, that medical students get to examine and study from dropped by 27% during the same period.
Cadavers donated to anatomy departments of medical colleges are used by students to learn dissections and understand the structure of the organs.
Doctors who teach the subject said the donations are sufficient, but more would benefit students. “The numbers of donations have decreased, but not to the point that it affects the student’s learning. But, more cadavers would mean lesser number of students per cadaver and better leaning of the subject,” said a doctor from the department of anatomy, JJ Hospital.
Meanwhile, students from the same college said that they get less time to learn dissections owing to lesser number of cadavers.
“It is the most important subjects that any medical student learns . There are 12-14 students per cadaver and sometimes, we don’t get to spend enough time with each student to develop the skills of making incisions and differentiating between different tissues,” said a medical student of JJ Hospital.
A city-based, ear-nose-throat surgeon, said it is important to learn the nuances of dissection from the beginning of the career. “The blood vessels and nerves are so close that one cannot afford to make any mistakes,” he said.
Doctors also said the only way encourage donations is by increasing awareness.
According to Dr Anjali Sabnis, head of department of anatomy, MGM medical college Kamothe, Navi Mumbai, the number of donations to her department increased from 26 to 39, in the last year because her efforts to create and increase awareness. “I have been to senior citizen forums and delivered lectures on cadaver donations. We will get more donations only if people are sensitised about the issue,” she said.
“Ideally there should be one cadaver for every five to six students. There is no doubt that the students learn better when there are not too many students learning to dissect the same body,” she added.