The First Patient is a true presentation of the motivation for medical students and doctors. While watching the documentary I felt like I was in the anatomy room 42 years ago at Central University in Quito, Ecuador.
There are huge differences now about the use of donated bodies for scientific use, sterilization and security for students and teachers. But the same procedures and analysis are used to study directly the human anatomy, to understand the complexity of the human body, and to offer better treatments for patients. There are also big improvements for forensic medicine and its applications.
When I was a medical student, it was necessary for the students procure their own human skeleton to study Anatomy. Finding a plastic model was almost impossible in our country. So you had to get it from a peer in the university or get your own bones from somewhere else. It was not easy and it was very expensive for those times. Our medical school had an amphitheater where we received anatomy classes with human bodies. We had to prepare presentations on structures, organs, isolation of nerves, arteries, etc. Sometimes we had to work on the body at night or weekends in the university to prepare our homework and get our records. We used one official book for anatomy studies called “Anatomia de Gardner”. My close friends and peers and I also studied in a more complex and extended book called the “Anatomy of H Rouviere.” We have our own human skeletons and books. On average, we spent about 60 hours each week studying anatomy. The class was the second year of the school of medicine. If you do not pass your second year, for sure was difficult to you to have a life as a doctor in the future.
Those bodies were our first patients. We respect them and treated them in the best way as possible so they could guide us for difficult times in medicine like we experience now with Coronavirus Pandemic.
I am including a picture of my Anatomy Books that I used in my studies. The Anatomy of H. Rouviere, Professor and Chief of the Anatomy of the Medicine Faculty of Paris. 7th edition Madrid 1959 printed in 3 Books. These books are one of the few things I brought to the USA 17 years ago, when I moved here from my country. The reason? These books were a present from my oldest brother-in-law, Wagner, who is a Pediatrician. These books were used for me, and for my wife Lina, and a few years later for her brother Antonio, and then 15 years later for my wife’s niece Mariajose. Today I found inside the books including some notes from my time as anatomy student. The year was 1977 (the 2nd year in the school of medicine, Central University of Ecuador, Quito-Ecuador) that I am including in the pictures.
Thank you for your interest in my history, this antecedent makes me a surgeon, and later a citizen working with the people and for the people in Public Health around the world.
Dr. José Mosquera
Roberto Clemente Health Clinic