How a woman’s ‘loss of life masks’ from the 1800s turned the face of CPR dolls


For 60 years, medical college students have practiced CPR on a dummy doll — dubbed Resusci Annie — compressing her chest and respiratory air into her plastic mouth. The face of that dummy, it seems, is not made up. It is primarily based on the face of a teenage woman discovered useless within the Seine river in Paris within the late nineteenth century whose physique was by no means recognized however whose visage was captured in a mould, or “loss of life masks.” 

A brand new paper within the Christmas situation of The BMJ — a particular version of the medical journal that may embody lighthearted or outside-of-the-box analysis — tells how the anonymous corpse turned a CPR manikin and earned the title of “probably the most kissed woman on the planet.”

“Yearly we’ve to hold out necessary CPR coaching which makes use of these mannequins,” Dr. Stephanie Loke, co-author of the characteristic and a dental trainee at Liverpool College Dental Hospital, in Liverpool, U.Ok., informed Stay Science in an e-mail. She and her co-author Dr. Sarah McKernon, additionally of the college’s Faculty of Dentistry, “merely puzzled who the face was!” she added. 

Associated: Lifesaving Beats: Songs Can Assist with CPR Coaching

The story of Resusci Annie begins greater than a century in the past, when the useless physique of a woman who appeared about 16 was pulled from the Seine, the authors wrote. As a result of her physique confirmed no indicators of violence, some individuals speculated that she had drowned herself deliberately. The physique was placed on public show in a mortuary in hopes that somebody might determine the deceased — a typical follow on the time — however no one recognized the teenager. She turned often known as “L’Inconnue de la Seine (the Unknown Lady of the Seine).” 

Although nameless, she was on no account forgotten. The pathologist who carried out her post-mortem was so taken together with her serene expression that he had a mannequin maker create a plaster “loss of life masks” of her face. The masks was replicated and offered. Actually, the Lorenzi mannequin makers, who, in keeping with the paper authors made the unique loss of life masks, nonetheless promote copies of it right this moment underneath the title “Noyée [Drowned Woman] de la Seine.”

The death mask of "L'Inconnue de la Seine (the Unknown Woman of the Seine)."  How a woman’s ‘loss of life masks’ from the 1800s turned the face of CPR dolls missing image

The loss of life masks of “L’Inconnue de la Seine (the Unknown Lady of the Seine).”  (Picture credit score: The BMJ)

Within the late Nineteen Fifties, when medical college students had been simply beginning to be taught and follow CPR, Archer Gordon, a member of the American Coronary heart Affiliation”s CPR Committee, realized {that a} CPR dummy might save medical college students from the pointless ache and potential rib harm of training CPR on one another. To fabricate such a factor, he and a Norwegian colleague sought the assistance of Norwegian toymaker Åsmund Laerdal. 

It turned out, Laerdal had seen a copy of “L’Inconnue de la Seine” on the wall of a relative’s home, and he determined to offer the CPR manikin the identical face. Thus, in 1960, when the Laerdal firm constructed the primary CPR manikins, “L’Inconnue de la Seine” turned “Resusci Annie,” the CPR dummy, or Resusci Anne, as Laerdal refers back to the doll on its web site. Earlier than making CPR manikins, Laerdal had manufactured a doll named Anne. “Maybe, that is the identify that caught,” Loke mentioned.

The doll, made of soppy plastic, had a collapsible chest in order that college students might follow chest compressions and open lips in order that they might follow mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. 

Making the CPR manikin modified the course of the Laerdal firm from toys to medical units, because it describes on its web site, the place Resusci Anne continues to be accessible for buy. The corporate estimates that 300 million individuals around the globe have been skilled in CPR, most of them with the assistance of Resusci Anne. A kind of individuals, it appears, was Michael Jackson, who included the chorus “Annie are you okay?” within the music “Easy Prison” after he was impressed by his personal CPR coaching, in keeping with the BMJ paper. (This line can be utilized in CPR coaching when trainees  verify for a response within the affected person.)

However what concerning the ethics of constructing reproductions of a deceased individual’s face and promoting them with out consent? In an editorial revealed in the identical situation of BMJ, author and ethicist Julian Sheather notes that though placing our bodies on show and passing round loss of life masks had been widespread practices within the nineteenth century when “L’Inconnue de la Seine” died, these practices could be “ethically troubling” right this moment. 

“Few individuals would need a picture of a useless cherished one extensively circulated with out consent,” Sheather wrote. Within the editorial, Sheather seeks a center floor between judging the previous by present-day requirements and suspending judgment of historical past altogether. “Whereas I in all probability wouldn”t search to take away the manikins in circulation, if making them now I may be tempted, out of respect, to anonymize her face,” he wrote.

Initially revealed on Stay Science.


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