Magazine article FDA Consumer

Alas, Poor Yorick De-Parts

Magazine article FDA Consumer

Alas, Poor Yorick De-Parts

Article excerpt

After three decades on the road teaching kids and adults about artificial body parts, the Food and Drug Administration's "skeleton-about-town" is being moved into retirement. Yorick, aptly named for the exhumed skull in Shakespeare's Hamlet, is a "bionic" skeleton. When he's left to his own devices in November 2003, his remains will hang in the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., for the rest of his days

Bionic means that electronic devices and mechanical parts (called medical devices or implants) are used to replace or help maintain the function of body parts that are damaged or that no longer work. These devices can help people perform normal, everyday tasks.

Ed Mueller, a retired FDA employee, has been dubbed Yorick's "birth father." Mueller and his colleagues at the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRII) came up with the idea of the teaching aid in the mid 1970s, and helped answer the question of what to do with the growing pile of medical devices submitted as part of the FDA's evaluation. Mueller, who now teaches at Johns Hopkins University, says, "It was a simple matter of where to put them." Devices, he says, "kept coming in from all the FDA field offices." On a whim, Mueller purchased a medical school skeleton and alas, Yorick was born.

Outfitted in the latest metal, plastic and rubber gear, Yorick has appeared at medical conventions, universities, training courses, and health fairs nationwide since that time. He's even attended a Cub Scout meeting or two. …

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