The challenges I face are immense. Suffering from Parkinson’s disease is like practising dying

In July 1977, I was working as a research scientist at the University of Heidelberg’s Institute of Pathology and Anatomy. Looking at specimens embedded in plastic – the most advanced preservation technique then available – I wondered why the plastic was poured around bodies rather than into them.

That was when I came up with the idea of vacuum-impregnation, whereby bodily fluids and soluble fat are extracted and replaced with resins, silicon rubbers and epoxies, a process I later named plastination. But it was only after a year of intense research, and hundreds of experiments, that I got some presentable results. By March 1978, I filed the first patent for plastination, a technique now used in 400 medical schools and universities worldwide (although the first whole-body plastinate was still 13 years away).

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Read More Experience: I will be plastinated when I die

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