OB/GYN Residents Trade Practice on Live Pigs for High-Tech Simulators

Published by Michelle Kretzer.

Obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) doctors-in-training at renowned Rush University Medical Center in Chicago will no longer practice surgical procedures on pigs. Thanks to a collaboration between the hospital and PETA, medical residents will now train on a state-of-the-art virtual reality surgical system.

Happy pigs© iStock.com/anopdesignstock

When PETA initially contacted Rush, residents at the medical school were performing invasive surgeries on pigs’ uteruses, ovaries, and fallopian tubes, then killing them.

PETA spoke with Rush’s OB/GYN residency officials about superior, non-animal training methods and worked with the school to provide physician residents with advanced human-patient simulation technology powered by virtual reality software that accurately mimics human anatomy. This cutting-edge technology allows physicians to practice surgeries over and over until they feel comfortable performing them. PETA donated $6,000 toward the purchase of the simulator.

“The surgical experience of our residents takes a huge leap forward as we move toward a more humane and effective method of simulation training,” said Dr. Xavier Pombar, the OB/GYN residency director at Rush University. “Representatives from PETA have worked steadfastly with our department toward this goal. I cannot thank them enough for their efforts.”

Studies show that doctors who learn lifesaving surgical skills on human simulators are more proficient than those who use animals for training. PETA is working with medical centers across the country to switch to human-patient simulators that spare animals’ lives and allow physicians to repeat invasive procedures until they are confident and adept.

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind