Fetal body parts used for research

Ian Wishart
Investigate Daily

It’s the hidden side of medical research. A massive industry harvesting pieces of dead children for experiments, or transplanting into animals. IAN WISHART discovers the University of Auckland has imported body parts from American babies for a research project, and asks some hard questions:

There are puddles of water in the gloomy corridors of Auck-land University’s School of Medicine, leftovers from a spring rainstorm and some bad building maintenance on this grey September afternoon. This nondescript urban edifice, now in the shadow of the new Auckland Hospital extensions, houses dark secrets. Or so Investigate has been told.

“They’re doing an undergraduate presentation next week in the Department of Optometry and Vision Science,” a source in Auckland’s optometry community confides in a cryptic email. “Thought you might be interested to investigate a research project involving tissue from aborted fetuses.”

Optometry. Eye doctors. Hardly the first branch of medicine that springs to mind as the cutting edge of macabre experimentation. But inside the Cole Lecture Theatre, safely sheltered from the weather and the waterlogged corridor, fifty or so medical students have filled the room almost to capacity as teams of fourth-year undergrads present the results of this year’s main research projects.

An American woman holds court, a scientific Mistress of Ceremonies taking clear pleasure in parading her protégés to their medical colleagues as they make audio-visual presentation after presentation. She is Dr Keely Bumsted O’Brien, and this is her baby, so to speak.

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