Recently, the “Hagens (Gunther von Hagens) ” story has recently been the focus of public interest. There has been much controversy on an exhibited human cadaver of a young pregnant Chinese woman with an 8-month old baby in her womb. The focus of the controversy is on whether or not the body was legally obtained, because according to national laws, no pregnant woman can be executed, and even if one died of natural causes, according to traditional Chinese culture, no families or relatives would ever send the body to the relevant institution and allow it be turned into a human specimen. However, the human cadavers have no identity or any other information regarding where they come from, which attracted public attention on the legality of the origins of the bodies.
Gunther von Hagens is a German anatomist. Hagens, in 1977, invented plastination of the human body, and patented the technique. Von Hagens Plastination (Dalian) Co., Ltd. specializes in biological plastination. The company researches and develops biological plastination technology, and manufactures and sells plasticized cadavers. It has a research and development center based in the Dalian High-tech Park, and six manufacturing workshops who work on fixing, dissecting, sawing and cutting, dehydrating, and hardening of the bodies.
Yu Jintao, journalist of the Oriental Outlook weekly, had thoroughly investigated the company and did two reports in November 2003 and October 2005, titled “Investigation on the Corpse Factory” and “Investigation on the Dalian Corpse Company: Controversy on the Legality of the Mysterious Factory”. Both reports caused public controversy back then, and brought the attention of the State Council, which instructed the National Bureau of Quality Inspection to send an inspection team to check on the company’s investment and import and export status, making specifications on the import and export of human genetic material.
However, Von Hagens Plastination (Dalian) Co., Ltd was honored as a German wholly-owned “high-tech company”, the world’s largest human specimen processing factory. Strangely, the company crowned as a “high-tech” star enterprise by the local government seems very mysterious. The factory site, which has never displayed any signs, is located in a place where even Dalian’s locals are unfamiliar with, and the company rehires their transportation drivers every a few months.