Channel 4 documents the dissection of a woman at Brighton Medical School

A woman who has died of a rare cancer has been praised for her “courageous and selfless act” after donating her body for a public dissection.

Toni Crews, 30, donated her body to Brighton and Sussex Medical School after she died of a rare form of cancer in 2020. Before her tragic death, Toni consented to the public dissection of her body and was the first person to give up her anonymity for the dissection.

Now her section will be the subject of a new documentary on Channel 4, from which her decision will directly benefit over 1,000 students.

Professor Claire Smith, who led the dissection at BSMS, said: “This gave us a wonderful opportunity for Allied Health students, as well as medical students, to learn about what happens in the body. In Toni’s case, we worked with her family to make sure they knew what was going to happen and to be part of the process every step of the way to making Toni’s wishes come true.

The Argus: Toni before she was diagnosed with cancerToni before she was diagnosed with cancer (Image: Blinkofaneye_)

“Body donation is a truly amazing act. We need to educate the next generation of medical and allied health students. Once they are qualified, we must help them continue to learn and push the frontiers of medicine. This could be through the development of new surgical techniques, life-saving procedures, or advancing our understanding of our bodies.

“If, as a result of this documentation, one additional person goes to a healthcare provider to double-check a symptom, or another young person is interested in a career in medicine or science, then I believe Toni’s wishes have been granted.”

The sections were filmed as part of the documentary “My Dead Body” and will be broadcast together with footage from Toni.

Toni, who was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer in 2016, drew attention to her cancer on her Instagram page.

After initially having a tumor removed, she was then told her cancer had returned and spread in 2018.

Toni wore an eye patch after having her eye removed to fight cancer.

Brighton and Sussex Medical School was the first school to receive a public exhibition license to display body parts, which made the documentary possible. They received the license in 2019.

In response to the dissection, one medical student commented: “Your brave and selfless act in giving me this amazing opportunity will never be forgotten and has truly made me a better nurse and person. Thank you very much.”

The Argus: Professor Claire SmithProfessor Claire Smith (Image: University of Sussex)

Another added: “Working with Toni has been a privilege. A truly amazing woman who selflessly helped students learn about the spread of metastatic cancer and human dissection. It was an honor to have you in our care. I am grateful for this learning opportunity, but also for the gratitude I feel for life since working with her.”

My Dead Body airs Monday 5 December at 10pm on Channel 4. Channel 4 documents the dissection of a woman at Brighton Medical School

Fry Electronics Team

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