Has any live person ever ended up having an autopsy done on them?

Don’t doctors take every precaution concievable to make sure live people don’t end up on the autopsy table?

I feel safe saying that an autopsy has never been completed on a live person.

“Making sure live people don’t end up on the table” reminds me of the joke about the two duck hunters out in the woods. One collapses unconscious, and his buddy calls 911 and tells the operator “My friend just died!”
The operator says, “Sir, please calm down. First, check to make sure he’s dead.”
There is a gunshot, and then the man gets back on the phone: “Okay, now what?”

This guy?

Yes, I’m sure.

In countries such as Haiti where voodoo is a predominant religion the use of tetrodotoxin to create zombies (BRAAAAAAAAAAAINS…ahem) I’m sure has resulted in more than one person being prematurely sliced up.

Tetrodotoxin suppresses the nervous system to the point where a person will appear totally dead - no heart beat, breathing, etc. However, they’re not actually dead - just in a pseudo-coma like state. It’s then possible for the poisoner to rob the grave, give the person a bit of antidote and viola - they have their very own zombie slave to do chores around the house.

Consult The Serpent & the Rainbow if this seems to far-fetched to be believed.

That happens to be one of very few, if not the only, widely spread jokes that we know the author of. :slight_smile:

I’m pretty skeptical about TTX being used like this. That particular toxin is an amazingly potent neurotoxin, and has no antidote. It blocks nerve impulses, and can cause total paralysis. That includes paralysis of the diaphragm and heart, meaning no breathing or heartbeat. If your putative zombie ain’t breathing, then he’s gonna die of not breathing, unless the zombie is given a ventilator and other elaborate life support measures. TTX doesn’t magically remove the metabolic needs of its victims.

Please share with the rest of the class :confused:

Written by Spike Milligan for a radio show and performed by Peter Sellers and some other actor whose name escapes me.

The Master speaks.

Michael Bentine.

The original joke has changed setting over time.

Stories that are told from mouth to mouth tend to.

Are you leaving out vivisection where a live person is intentionally sliced up? There have been some infamous examples of this including the Japanese Unit 731 during WW2:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_731 (don’t read if you have a weak stomach)

I remember reading about the early days of modern medicine. Doctors often had difficulty obtaining cadavers to train students, and would get bodies any way they could. If someone dug up a recently buried body, the doctors would often take it with no questions asked.

There was one case during this time when a group of doctors received the corpse of a criminal that had been executed earlier that day. When they started dissecting the body, they found that the heart was still beating. The students gave a worried look to the doctor in charge, who calmly told them to proceed with the dissection.

Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I read this and I’m having trouble finding a cite for it.

Is that story plausible? Even back then in the days when the attitude towards human life was more cavalier?

A spoiler alert would have been nice.

I edited the OP of the thread to remove a spoiler about a recently broadcast television episode.

It was House.

Not a real person, but in Voltaire’s Candide Dr. Pangloss has an autopsy started on him after his (botched) execution at the auto-da-fe. the doctor performing it stopped, of course, as soon as Pangloss started screaming from the initial incision. He got better.

One (and surely not the only) odd thing about that story is that he supposedly came to when an incision was made on his face.
This is not usual autopsy procedure. The usual Y-shaped incision is started in the area of the shoulders, taken to the midsection, and from then to the pubis. A facial incision for a traffic accident victim sounds highly unlikely. Plus the links do not feature any official confirmation of an accident or of an autopsy being ordered.

Now, there are a few notorious instances of people being prematurely declared dead and winding up in a morgue or funeral home. One of the victims of a major avalanche that buried a train on the Great Northern line in the early 20th century supposedly woke up at the start of his embalming.

Every autopsy I do as a (very small) part of my practice as a pathologist begins with an external physical exam, starting with the head. Let’s see…the patient is normocephalic with no evidence of head trauma. The sclerae of the eyes are not jaundiced. Pupils are round and regular in shape. The are reactive to light…



I understood the face stitching to be that they noticed a cut on his face caused by the accident, and stitched it up without anesthesia, since he was “dead”, which caused him to wake up.

I don’t know how normal that is, though, that they’d stitch that up before doing anything else.

Edgar Allan Poe, in The Premature Burial, wrote of the case of Edward Stapleton. He died, and an autopsy was refused. After he had been buried, his medical attendants dug him up to do the autopsy anyway. During it Stapleton revived.