BENGALURU: No one lives forever, but perhaps a body can be preserved for eternity. A city-based forensic expert has developed a breakthrough technique that could preserve a human body for posterity without any further intervention. A technique which, had it been applied to bodies of historical figures like Asoka, Akbar, Alexander or Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagar Empire, upon their deaths, would have helped in preserving their mortal remains in their original form to show us today how they looked when they were alive centuries ago.
In what is being considered a big step forward that has the potential to attract people in droves to museums of the future where such bodies may be preserved, the Bengaluru-based forensic expert Dr Dinesh Rao’s technique is a simple two-hour process that promises to preserve human bodies without decay or decomposition for centuries.
That may sound like the still-mysterious technique used in mummification of the ancient Egyptian kings. But Dr Rao, Professor and Head of the Department of Forensic Medicine at The Oxford Medical College, Hospital & Research Centre, Bengaluru, and former Director and chief forensic pathologist in Kingston, Jamaica — who refrains from providing details about the technique — said: “No, this is not mummification, nor is it embalming which preserves bodies in formalin. This is an altogether new technique.”
However, although Dr Rao is secretive about the technique, experts who have witnessed the body preservation process are already impressed.
The technique was presented to the medical community recently and about 200 doctors and 150 medical students witnessed it. One of them who witnessed it, a pathologist, Dr Reema Patil, said, “I am very impressed with this technique. It will be useful for people to preserve human remains for posterity.’’ Mummies dating back to thousands of years, said Dr Rao, use a technique that is very expensive and takes about a year to accomplish. He claims that his technique is a simple process which takes just a couple of hours, besides being inexpensive.
Dr Rajbala Yadav, former director of Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, New Delhi, said, “This procedure, as Dr Rao has explained, is mind-blowing. It is a breakthrough. The methodology and many aspects of it can be used in other areas as well.’’
Dr Diwakar Jha, Professor and Head, Biochemistry Department, North Delhi Medical College (NDMC), Delhi, said, ‘’It is an amazing find. It is path-breaking. It is awaiting official recognition, and the results are good. What is laudable is that he has demonstrated it with evidence.”
Dr M B Sanikoppa, the principal of the medical college where Dr Rao teaches, said, “Dr Rao has used this technique on the mortal remains of a human and the preserved body remains in the institution to this day, 24 months later, fresh and with no signs of decay or decomposition.”
He proudly adds: “It speaks volumes about the effectiveness of this technique. We only change the clothes on this preserved body every 3-months, nothing more.” Dr Rao has used the technique on animals, too, and a pigeon that he used this technique on, looks well-preserved with no further preservative intervention.
An advisor to Union health ministry, Dr Amaraprasad Reddy, visited Dr Rao’s place in Bengaluru on Thursday to discuss the potential of this technique. Dr Rao said, “Government should fund further research in this field.’’