At the SynDaver factory in Tampa, Florida, mad scientists are bringing bodies to life. Not Frankensteining the dead, but using a library of polymers to craft synthetic cadavers that twitch and bleed like real suffering humans.
Hospitals and med schools use the fakes to teach anatomy and train surgeons, and the most lifelike model is the $95,000 SynDaver Patient. This exquisite corpse can be controlled wirelessly so practitioners can rehearse elaborate medical scenarios in which the patient goes into shock and even “dies.”
It’s less messy, and a good deal longer-lasting, than real flesh and blood: As long as you keep buying replacement viscera, these bodies won’t ever decay. But because they’re 85 percent water, they must be submerged in a watery grave between uses to keep from drying out.
The fake corpse’s eyes have tiny screens, so the pupils can dilate in response to light or trauma.
A compressor under the table draws air in and out. Doctors can practice tracheotomies and intubations.
An electric pump provides a realistic pulse, while a heater warms up the fluids to body temperature.
Diseases on demand! SynDaver can afflict the body with specific pathologies—a pancreatic tumor, say.
To simulate a seizure, pneumatic actuators in the legs and arms create jerking motions.
More than 600 muscles are sutured to the cadaver’s 206 bones, and every joint is movable.
SynDaver’s polymers range in texture from rigidly skeletal to slimily liverlike.
Each body contains 50 feet of veins and arteries; valves restrict the flow of (fake) blood during shock.
This article appears in the October issue. Subscribe now.