Teenagers who hope to be the surgeons of the future will have the chance to try their hand at dissection at special events in Yorkshire in the next few weeks. Chris Burn reports.
Even by the standards of Dragons’ Den, former secondary school teacher Samuel Piri’s pitch for investment on the popular BBC business show was an unusual one - with his medical set-up, synthetic body parts and pig organs prompting jokes about Hannibal Lecter.
But last summer Piri walked away with a £90,000 investment from Dragons Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden in his unique idea - delivering live and interactive anatomy and dissection lessons to healthcare professional and members of the public.
He impressed them with his delivery and business potential, while admitting the experience isn’t for everyone.
“We have had a couple of people say it is too much for them but other than that it has been very well received,” he said on the programme.
In addition to being shown on BBC Two, a YouTube clip of Piri’s pitch to the prospective investors has been viewed more than one million times as Jones and Meaden fought off competition from fellow Dragon Tej Lalvani for a stake in the business.
One part of Piri’s business is now coming to Yorkshire in the next few weeks - aimed at giving teenagers interested in studying anatomy, medicine or pathology a chance to take on the role of trauma doctors bringing the systems of the human body alive through dissections.
The event, called Operating Theatre Live, will be held at Parkside School in Bradford on June 22 and Malton School on July 13 and organisers promise “an academically rigorous educational experience matched to UK exam specifications”.
It is aimed at those aged 14-19 or on access to higher education courses.
The operating theatre experience will give children the opportunity to dissect specimens of pig organs led by human anatomist Piri and his team of clinicians.
Piri says: “I personally write the academic content and produce all of the activities myself. I and my team guarantee you a breath-taking, unforgettable trip through the human body like never before.
“Each student will leave stretched and challenged having made measurable progress against the science specification, we’ve got them all covered - including GCSE, A Levels, BTECs Scottish National 5 and Highers.”
On the day, students will work systematically through the process of completely dissecting a human body using pig organs and synthetic body parts to represent it.
Students will be taught a variety of important clinical skills including interpreting X-rays and linking symptoms to clinical diagnosis.
There will be the opportunity to ask questions and at the same time handle the anatomical samples and even the chance to undertake some dissection for themselves.
With a post-mortem style experience, students will look at disease and pathology, working on real specimens using real surgeons’ tools. They will also discover the intricate structures of the human body and how they function to keep us alive. It is all intended to give students interested in medicine and anatomy an idea of what it is really like to work in such fields.
As you would expect from a company backed by hard-nosed business tycoons like Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden, the course does come at a cost.
There are two different types of course available for those who attend - the Future Healthcare programme which cover six workshops and runs between 9am and 3pm, costing £74.99, and the Future Medic programme which includes seven courses and an evening meal. That runs between 9am and 6pm and costs £144.99.
For more information or to book tickets, visit www.operatingtheatrelive.co.uk.