Friday, 1 April 2011

Gunther von Hagens prepares for death from Parkinson's with equanimity and quiet German efficiency - no surprises there,1518,737461,00.html

"Dear Ming & Walter [UK Body Donors]

As always, it’s great to hear from you.  We were all saddened by the news of Gunther’s Parkinson’s diagnosis. He remains in good spirits and busy as ever.  Unfortunately, the media reports do not properly reflect Gunther’s statement and we are sorry that this misinformation is being spread. 

Gunther was emotionally overwrought during a new year's eve address to his staff, when he delivered the major revelation -- that he had kept private for two years -- that he was suffering from Parkinson's Disease. He said that according to his research “the average duration of the disease and disability  is about nine years.” He said that “since he was diagnosed two years ago, he could realistically expect seven  active working years before he become totally incapacitated."  Gunther was referring to his capacity to carry out his challenging and complex scientific work when he stated that he would become totally incapacitated, and not that he was dying.

Gunther as always has many ambitious plans, and he has no intention of slowing down.  He hopes to continue his plastination work for as long as he can.  Gunther still plans for and hopes to continue his work in the field for many, many years it’s only the physical work which he is uncertain of how long he will be able to continue.   He has always expected that the Institute for Plastination would continue to run well beyond his own life. As you know he also has a large team of scientists and fellow plastinators that he has been training over the past 30 years and he plans that they will continue his work in the future.  In addition, Angelina  continues to work on expanding and refining the exhibitions and plans to continue to do so. Gunther’s children  remain actively involved.  Rurik, Gunther’s only son and eldest child is now working at the IfP on a a full-time basis and his daughter is also highly involved in the operations.

Thank you for your kind wishes, which I have passed on to Gunther.  He sends many greetings and thanks for your continued support.

With kindest regards,

Körperspendebüro/Body Donation Department
Institut für Plastination e.K.
Rathausstrasse 11, 69126 Heidelberg, Germany
Mobil: +49 174-4184855
Phone: +49 6221-33 11 50
Fax: +49 6221-33 11 45
Sitz d. Gesellschaft Heidelberg/Registered office: Heidelberg
Handelsregister: Mannheim HRA 332799
Register of corporations: Mannheim HRA 332799

KÖRPERWELTEN – Eine Herzenssache in Berlin, Germany – opens April 27, 2011 –
BODY WORLDS & The Story of the Heart in Copenhagen, Denmark –now open -
BODY WORLDS of Animals in the Natural History Museum in Vienna, Austria – extended until April 4, 2011 - 
BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life in Istanbul, Turkey - extended until March 27, 2011 –
BODY WORLDS Vital in San Jose, CA, USA – now open -
BODY WORLDS & The Brain in Phoenix, AR, USA – now open –
BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life in Chicago, IL, USA - opens March 18, 2011 –
PLASTINARIUM in Guben, Germany – Permanent Exhibition & Anatomical Teaching Center -
Gunther von Hagens´ first online shop offers genuine anatomical specimens–

I was wondering why he had gone quiet of late and wasn't aware of the press reports of his illness until today. He is one of the many people who have inspired me by their single-minded purposefulness and indifference to hysterical attacks on him by the media.  

I should mention that I am indeed one of the UK body donors who visited Gunther's laboratory in China.  (Yes, the free trip to China came after our donations and what a trip that was.)

One of my abiding memories of that trip was how effortlessly Gunther picked up a suitcase stuffed with books that weighed like bricks from the carousel at the airport.  (I like to think he was trying to impress me.)

One should face the inevitability of one's extinction with equanimity and grace, confident in the knowledge that by the time it catches up with us we will have done enough for people not to forget us immediately for any good that we have done.     It is not the fact that we die that should upset and frighten us, but how we have lived and how we are now continuing to live.  It is after all Death that will crystallise the worth of our respective existences.,194,david-jenkins David Jenkins covered the story in the Sunday Telegraph Magazine in 2002.   

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