The Journal of Plastination

Published in J. Int. Soc. Plast. 16:3-4 (2001)

A Tribute to the Father of Plastination in the USA Dr. Harmon Bickley

AUTHORS:
Timothy Barnes
affiliations:

Ohio University College of  Osteopathic Medicine, 135 Grosvenor Hall, Athens, Ohio 45701, USA

ABSTRACT:

"Fixation!  Dehydration! Defatting!  Impregnation!  and  Curing!"

How many times did we hear him say it? For this writer it was numerous times and each time Harmon conveyed a sincerity that can come only from the true believer.

Most of us knew that Harmon Bickley was  in declining heath but the notification of his death was a jolt none the same. One immediately conjured up the pleasant face, the fringe of hair, the unique voice pattern and the purposeful bearing that said "we have things to do and we should get to them".

I first met Harmon in San Antonio in the spring of 1986. My institution had received notification of a meeting to be conducted there concerning preservation of teaching specimens for medical education. The illustration on the brochure showed a cross-section  of a torso seemingly submerged in a liquid with bubbles issuing from the specimen. This was surrounded by a rectangle and we took it to be an embedment of a cross­ section. Our anatomy course coordinator thought that it would be a good thing for us to have the capability of manufacturing similar teaching aids and arrangements were made for me to attend the meeting. At the end of the first morning of the meeting I called home and told him "This isn't an embedding class - - IT'S A WHOLE LOT BETTER  !".

KEY WORDS:

plastination; Harmon Bickley; USA; San Antonio; Macon; Georgia; Texas

*CORRESPONDENCE TO:

Ohio University College of  Osteopathic Medicine, 135 Grosvenor Hall, Athens, Ohio 45701, USA

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article Statistics

Volume: 16
Issue:
Allocation-id: 0000

Submitted Date:November 28, 2001
Accepted Date: December 19, 2001
Published Date: December 31, 2001

DOI Information:       https://doi.org/10.56507/VRVF5071

Loading



Copyright 2022 International Society for Plastination

Copyright

This work is licensed under a Creative Common Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Article Citation

The Journal of Plastination (July 14, 2024) A Tribute to the Father of Plastination in the USA Dr. Harmon Bickley. Retrieved from https://journal.plastination.org/articles/a-tribute-to-the-father-of-plastination-in-the-usa-dr-harmon-bickley/.
"A Tribute to the Father of Plastination in the USA Dr. Harmon Bickley." The Journal of Plastination - July 14, 2024, https://journal.plastination.org/articles/a-tribute-to-the-father-of-plastination-in-the-usa-dr-harmon-bickley/
The Journal of Plastination - A Tribute to the Father of Plastination in the USA Dr. Harmon Bickley. [Internet]. [Accessed July 14, 2024]. Available from: https://journal.plastination.org/articles/a-tribute-to-the-father-of-plastination-in-the-usa-dr-harmon-bickley/
"A Tribute to the Father of Plastination in the USA Dr. Harmon Bickley." The Journal of Plastination [Online]. Available: https://journal.plastination.org/articles/a-tribute-to-the-father-of-plastination-in-the-usa-dr-harmon-bickley/. [Accessed: July 14, 2024]

INTRODUCTION

"Fixation! Dehydration! Defatting! Impregnation!  and  Curing!"

How many times did we hear him say it? For this writer it was numerous times and each time Harmon conveyed a sincerity that can come only from the true believer.

Most of us knew that Harmon Bickley was  in declining heath but the notification of his death was a jolt none the same. One immediately conjured up the pleasant face, the fringe of hair, the unique voice pattern and the purposeful bearing that said "we have things to do and we should get to them".

I first met Harmon in San Antonio in the spring of 1986. My institution had received notification of a meeting to be conducted there concerning preservation of teaching specimens for medical education. The illustration on the brochure showed a cross-section  of a torso seemingly submerged in a liquid with bubbles issuing from the specimen. This was surrounded by a rectangle and we took it to be an embedment of a cross­ section. Our anatomy course coordinator thought that it would be a good thing for us to have the capability of manufacturing similar teaching aids and arrangements were made for me to attend the meeting. At the end of the first morning of the meeting I called home and told him "This isn't an embedding class - - IT'S A WHOLE LOT BETTER  !".

And that is what Harmon realized from his first experience with plastination. It was a WHOLE LOT BETTER. But then, Harmon had been at this business of a WHOLE LOT BETTER for years. He was dedicated to teaching healthcare professionals and always on the lookout for better and innovative ways to do so. Even in the midst of a plastination meeting in Heidelberg I was talking to Harmon in the atrium of the Pathology Institute and he reached in his pocket and pu lled out an unusual specimen.  It was a hologram that he had recently made and  was  exploring  the possibilities of its use in medical education.

Another example of Harmon's  dedication  to education and innovative methods occurred at the plastination meeting at Mercer University. Most of us that attended the meeting were aware of a new curriculum that was beginning to be implemented at a few places and Mercer University had  embraced  it to the fullest. "Problem-Based Curriculum"  had  a somewhat sinister name that both intrigued and repelled some of us. As the meeting progressed, questions about the curriculum were repeatedly raised and Harmon finally said that the purpose of the meeting was plastination and not problem-based learning but he would be willing to address that subject if we were willing to return in the evening for an unstructured session .  As I recall, the space that Harmon had chosen for the meeting proved to be too small and we needed to, move  to  a  larger  room  to  accommodate  those  who returned to hear him  talk about this new method. (When plastinators elect to listen to education philosophies rather than sample the local nightlife and places of alcohol consumption,  you  know  that something big is up and the speaker is highly respected.) There was nearly 100% attendance  at this ad hoc meeting. Calmly, coolly and capably Harmon talked about the curriculum and in his typical way was willing to talk about the faults as well as the positive aspects of a method in which he believed.  Typically too, he was very positive about the important part plastinated specimens were playing in the curriculum. The extent to which they were used can be pointed out when a question was raised about some aspect of dissection and Harmon turned to another staff member and said "Do we still have a cadaver upstairs?".  At this I sat bolt-upright and several others shifted uneasily in their seats as we could not imagine  a medical  school that   did   not   engage in an extensive  dissection experience. But Harmon calmly allayed our concerns and went on to talk extensively about how it all happened. It was a long session - - and yet another example of Harmon's mission in life - - - to educate.

In reviewing Harmon's curriculum vitae, his list of publications , his memberships, his offices held, his land-mark activities, one gets a further sense of Harmon's dedication to education. The published obituaries gave me some insight into Harmon's life that I had not known and told me who most poignantly mourn his passing. Well, we are going to miss him too. Who else will be able to initiate a plastination conference by saying "fixation, dehydration, defatting, impregnation and curing" and have quite the same sincerity ? Oh, we will find someone and they will do a commendable job of it. But it won't have the "Harmon touch".

By:  Mr. TIM BARNES, SECRETARY ISP

REFERENCES

Addendum: For those of you who are new to ISP and did not have the privilege to know or meet Harmon Bickley : Harmon was instrumental in bringing the concept of plastination to North America. He worked closely with Dr. Gunther von Hagens and also brought the involved technology to North America. In 1982 he hosted the first workshop, which has now gone on to become what we know as the International Conferences on Plastination. He hosted the next three conferences. He was the founder of the International Society for Plastination and Harmon served as the executive director. From this organization , this journal was born and Harmon served as the first editor.

Online ISSN: 2311-777X
Contact Us
Copyright 2022
bookmarkcrosslist