Dissection hasn’t always been easy, or even permitted: Roman law forbade autopsy, meaning that Galen gained most of his anatomical knowledge from dissecting the corpses of pigs and apes, assuming that the underlying structures were broadly similar.
Islam and Christianity had fewer proscriptions on the treatment of cadavers.
Vesalius began dissection in earnest in Padua in the 16th century.
It was his student, the Englishman William Harvey, who in 1628 made a breakthrough in discovering the function of the heart.
People have always been Fritz Liedtke’s favorite subjects.
He was out to dinner several years ago when he was taken with one of his dining companions, a woman with “amazing freckles.”
Liedtke asked if he could take her photograph, which he did under the light of a neon sign in front of the restaurant.
“It was one of the most beautiful photographs I had taken all year,” he says of the moment that launched him on a search for more freckled faces to photograph.
Portrait of a woman with freckles
Liedtke is interested in making beautiful images, and for him, freckles are beautiful.
But, as we all know, beauty is subjective. Look up the word “freckle” in the thesaurus and you will get one or two sweet-sounding words in the list of synonyms, like “beauty mark” and “daisy.”
But the majority are not sweet, such as “flaw,” “blotch,” and “mark.”
Portrait of a little girl with freckles
As Liedtke began talking with and photographing more friends and acquaintances who shared this prominent feature, he wasn’t surprised to discover that many held deep-rooted beliefs about this feature he found so captivating.
One loved her freckles, recalling them being referred to by her parents as “angel kisses.”
Another remembered as a child being asked by her grandmother to wash up for dinner after playing outside, then crying when her grandmother asked her to go wash again, having mistaken her freckles for dirt.
James Taylor Gray is an artist living in Portland, Oregon.
His background, both professionally and academically, is in literature, writing and music.
Through his work, he seeks to evoke the same things in visual art that he loves in those other expressions – the moment of tension between past, perception and future, the natural quiet and space that exists around the poetic, the deep swell of melody and the sudden, resonant silence.
Not long ago, a precious packet of blood traveled more than 7,000 miles by special courier, from America to Australia, to save the life of a newborn. Months before the delivery date, a routine checkup of the mom-to-be had revealed that the fetus suffered from hemolytic disease.
Doctors knew that the baby would need a blood transfusion immediately after delivery. The problem was, the baby’s blood type was so rare that there wasn’t a single compatible donor in all of Australia.
A request for compatible blood was sent first to England, where a global database search identified a potential donor in the United States.
From there, the request was forwarded to the American Rare Donor Program, directed by Sandra Nance. The ARDP had compatible frozen blood on hand, but Nance knew that a frozen bag might rupture in transit.
So her organization reached out to the compatible donor, collected half a liter of fresh blood, and shipped it across the Pacific. When the mother came in to give birth, the blood was waiting. “It was just magic,” Nance says.
You’re probably aware of eight basic blood types: A, AB, B and O, each of which can be “positive” or “negative.” They’re the most important, because a patient who receives ABO +/– incompatible blood very often experiences a dangerous immune reaction.
For the sake of simplicity, these are the types that organizations like the Red Cross usually talk about. But this system turns out to be a big oversimplification.
Each of these eight types of blood can be subdivided into many distinct varieties. There are millions in all, each classified according to the little markers called antigens that coat the surface of red blood cells.
AB blood contains A and B antigens, while O blood doesn’t contain either; “positive” blood contains the Rhesus D antigen, while “negative” blood lacks it. Patients shouldn’t receive antigens that their own blood lacks—otherwise their immune system may recognize the blood as foreign and develop antibodies to attack it.
That’s why medical professionals pay attention to blood types in the first place, and why compatible blood was so important for the baby in Australia. There are in fact hundreds of antigens that fall into 33 recognized antigen systems, many of which can cause dangerous reactions during transfusion.
One person’s blood can contain a long list of antigens, which means that a fully specified blood type has to be written out antigen by antigen—for example, O, r”r”, K:–1, Jk(b-).
Try fitting that into that little space on your Red Cross card.