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In Italy people have got used to everything. Lack of infrastructures, money, social services worth bearing this name, social housing for the less fortunate, work , a widespread  public spirit, and so on. But that of dead bodies for University research is a lack nobody, not even the most prudent citizens, could have imagined. Yet, this is the case. It has been denounced during a press conference preceding the presentation of the XV Meeting of the World Federation of the Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS), that is going to take place in Rome from September 8 through September 12. Quite an issue for Professors and students who do not have ”anatomic preparations” (this is the technical – and a little cynical – name by which dead bodies go) on which to practice. But if science cannot stop, how do we solve this problem? Buying bodies from abroad at record prices. For a head and a spine, the parts on which neurosurgeons work, 10 thousand euros are needed. And if the Athenaeum is public, guess where those money will come from? From the citizens’s pockets.

But this time, according to what University Professors  have affirmed, the State is not the one to blame. It is not part of the Italian culture to donate dead bodies to research. A contribution that is not easy to digest, indeed, but which could simplify the achievement of important results from a medical point of view. Suffice it to say that in a large city such as Torino, Universities receive an average of one body a year. A slap in the face of medicine’s needs. This is why the Italian Society of Neurosurgeons (SINch) is thinking about launching an awareness campaign. In Italy, donation of one’s body is allowed – has explained Professor Roberto Delfini, the former president of the SINch – but the country lacks this kind of culture. It is not widespread. The Institute of Anatomy in Rome receives one or two bodies a year, a number that does not allow to organise any courses. To allow Italian neurosurgeons to  organise exercitations, he has added, every centre would need around ten bodies;  if we keep in mind that there are 25 of them on the territory of the country, the total number of needed bodies amounts to 250. How does a neurosurgeon make exercitations today? To get the necessary preparation – has answered Delfino to the journalists – they either partake in specialised courses, – that are, however, compelled to buy anatomical preparations from abroad, paying a lot, – or to go abroad themselves, where they do not only have to pay the University courses, but also for their staying in the given country.

On the other hand, he has continued, ”practice on anatomical preparations is fundamental”, but in Italy are missing the Centres of anatomical surgery which should  provide the specialist with the material they need for exercitations. Also the national bioethics Committee has recently stressed that Italy lacks a specific law on donation. The only way, at present, is to express one’s will clearly, in a signed document, and to hand it in to a University. Beyond the Italian borders the situation is rather different and the number of donations is higher. Perhaps it is true that in Italy people save on everything…

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