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Appears in Collections:Law and Philosophy Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Should the skeleton of "the Irish giant" be buried at sea?
Other Titles: Why the Royal College of Surgeons should respect the wishes of "the Irish giant"
Author(s): Doyal, Len
Muinzer, Thomas
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Keywords: Medical law and ethics
organ and human remains retention
property and the human body
Issue Date: 24-Dec-2011
Citation: Doyal L & Muinzer T (2011) Should the skeleton of "the Irish giant" be buried at sea?, BMJ, 343 (7837), Art. No.: d7597.
Abstract: First paragraph: The skeleton of Charles Byrne, the famous “Irish giant,” has been displayed at the Hunterian Museum in the Royal College of Surgeons for almost 200 years. It played an important part in linking acromegaly with the pituitary gland. In 1909 the American surgeon Harvey Cushing removed the top of Byrne’s skull and observed an enlarged pituitary fossa, confirming a relation between the disease and adenoma. This finding has enabled the diagnosis and early treatment of people with acromegaly. At the beginning of this year, further important research led by Marta Korbonits used the DNA from two of Byrne’s molars to establish a genetic link between him and several people from a particular area of Northern Ireland.Aside from giving those susceptible to the disease the opportunity for appropriate medical care, this link perhaps helps to explain the long tradition of mythology about giants in Irish history.
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Rights: Publisher policy allows this work to be made available in this repository. Published in BMJ 2011;343:d7597 by BMJ Publishing Group. The original publication is available at:

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