Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The meticulously extracted nervous system of a 19th-century woman on display at Hahnemann Medical College

Last summer I put up a post about a remarkable whole nervous system dissection that was carried out at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. The inimitable Dr. Mark Cohen recently sent me an article about a similar dissection performed at Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia by Dr. Rufus B. Weaver. The dissection, which took place in 1888 over the course of five months, was performed on a 35-year-old woman who had given permission for her body to be used for the furtherance of science.

Dr. Rufus B. Weaver and the nervous system of Harriet Cole

An excerpt from the article appearing in Atlas Obscura:
According to the History of the Homoeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania, Dr. Weaver told a fellow doctor about Harriet during a trip to the U.K., after his extraction of the nervous system. He didn’t mention the completion of the dissection. The doctor’s response: “It is impossible, there is no such thing in all this United Kingdom, and if it had been possible it would have been done by some one.” Dr. Weaver replied quietly: “So it has, by some one in the States.” 
In an article for Homeopathic World in August 1892, Dr. Alfred Heath was far more generous about Dr. Weaver’s accomplishment. He called it “a marvel of patience and skill in dissection, the likes of which has never been seen before.”

A dissection similar to that of Dr. Weaver's done at the University of Colorado in 2017 by Shannon Curran

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