Body donation for science: Despite the scandal, they have not lost faith in science

Owners of the project of the National Association of Organ Donation, whose charter was established in the prefecture, they were among the speakers invited by the French Medical College of Professors of Anatomy on September 22 in Limoges.

“We’d rather not know”

Jean-Jacques Guinchar is the son and nephew of the donors. Between 2006 and 2022, the uncle and aunt took care of the donation center in Lyon without any problems. But the bodies of his parents, who died within two years, were transferred to the center of Paris, on the rue des Saint-Pères.

“For my father, at the end of 2015, I received a standardized letter explaining that his body, which is used in training operations, was cremated and the ashes scattered. I had nothing for my mother who died in 2017… I don’t know if his donation was helpful. I am also afraid that his body was not used. But with my two brothers, despite our anger, we preferred not to know what happened. What is good, if not more painful…”

however, Jean-Jacques Guinchard is one of 170 relatives who have filed a complaint about the horrific case.. He was also one of the founders of the association Charnier Paris-Descartes, Justice and Dignity for donors (CDJD), which unites the families of the deceased.

How the Limoges Faculty of Medicine cares for bodies donated to science

The “rehearsal room” is ready for use

Thierry Zhelinari has been on the list of donors since 2017. Despite the shock, he did not change his mind. Because he knows very well the center that takes care of him in the tour: “One of the biggest in France, with an average of 250 donations per year. He also currently chairs the Midwest Organ Donation Association, which office he joined in 2018.

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This commitment is fueled by various experiences: new therapies tested on her father with cancer in 1986, her mother’s health problems without a cure for ten years, and the amputation of her own leg in 2015. Also with firm belief: For the progress of research, for the good training of doctors, they need “matter” in practiceAnd this cannot be the first case on the patient. »

That’s why Thierry Zhelinari is ready to give his body to science to use it as a “model”, a “rehearsal”. “I think about future generations. »

Dialogue with anatomists

The future, Jean-Jacques Guinchard, is also interested. “More than in the past,” he admits. So the two joined forces in a new dynamic: promoting a better organization of body donation.

They also chose to dialogue with anatomists. Choice is sometimes misunderstood. “I was reprimanded at the Charnier Paris-Descartes Association for having contact with people who were essentially suspected of practicing omerta,” recalls Jean-Jacques Guinshard. I wanted to take that risk. When I approached the anatomists, I saw that they were also shocked by this scandal. Which I dare compare to tainted blood. They felt it as a professional betrayal on the part of the temple of French anatomy, a prestigious place, previously untouchable…”

Along with the scandal, Thierry Zelnar and Jean-Jacques Guinchard found themselves involved in the overhaul of the system, participating in the commission that resulted in the resolution of April 27, 2022. “Quite sloppy” text, with “inaccuracies”, “contradictions”. and “legal impossibility”, which leaves them with a mixed feeling.

“Good can come from evil”

But an approach that brought them significantly closer. “At first we didn’t always agree, but we got along well,” says Thierry Zhelinari, who admits that some positions have changed.

“When I decided to donate my body after death, I announced it to my family without explanation, and thanks to Jean-Jacques, I understood that it would be difficult for him and that he needed time to talk about it. »

Together, they decided to go even further by creating – with Nikolas Naidić, a sociologist, specialist in the topic and the donor’s son -, National Organ Donation Association.

goals? Make life easier for donors, protect their interests, support families, provide practical information… The founding general meeting should be held by the end of 2022.

“Good can come out of evil,” summarizes Jean-Jacques Guinshard.

Helen Pommer

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