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The Legacy of Burke and Hare

A documentary by a Scottish media company reveals the truly horrifying fact that innocent and vulnerable people are being harvested for their body parts.


It’s a little-known fact, but in certain parts of the world today, human beings are being cut open while alive and their body parts removed and sold for profit. Most people would find this revelation to be shocking and, in fact, hard to believe in this day and age of so-called enlightenment in the modern society in which we like to imagine that we inhabit. However, in countries such as China and Colombia this practice is widespread and the helpless victims who lose their body parts unwillingly in this way have no recourse to justice. It is, in fact, a form of animal husbandry where human beings are cultivated, not as individuals, but, rather, for the essential parts of them, namely, in the main, their kidneys and livers. A grim, black market trade in body parts is in operation and in some cases it’s costing unsuspecting victims the ultimate price - their lives.

While such practices may induce horror and revulsion in the minds of most reasonable people, it is not an entirely new phenomenon. Two hundred years in Scotland, the infamous Burke and Hare plied their trade in Edinburgh’s Old Town, murdering at least sixteen people and selling their bodies to the medical school of Dr. Robert Knox where they were dissected in order to teach medical students. At that time, the law forbade the dissection of bodies other than that of executed criminals and there were simply not enough bodies available to supply the ever-growing needs of the teaching schools who taught anatomy to aspiring doctors and surgeons.

Burke and Hare devised a ready solution to this problem in Edinburgh by simply murdering their victims and selling them to the anatomy school in a no-questions-asked deal. No-one was exempt from their murderous spree, including the elderly, prostitutes, the disabled and even children. When the villains were finally caught, the citizens of Edinburgh were horrified to discover the nefarious deeds which had been happening in their own city.

A Scottish media company, Orickle Limited, has produced a documentary recalling the dreadful crimes of Burke and Hare and the circumstances surrounding the events of their day. Leona Tyrie, producer of “The Body Merchants: The Shocking Truth about Anatomy Murder” explains, "Burke and Hare have down in history and in popular culture as grave robbers but, in fact, there is no evidence that they ever robbed a single grave, they preferred the easy route of murdering their victims in order to sell their bodies for dissection and easy profit. Most people would believe that those days are confined to the pages of history and that in this modern age those kinds of practices would be unthinkable. However, research on the subject would point to the fact that, unbelievably, vulnerable people in the world today are still being cut open and their organs are being harvested and sold for gain.”

Said Leona, “It’s appalling to imagine that this is still going on in the world today and that most people are completely unaware of its existence. It ought to act as a real wake-up call to the world that the horrible days of Burke and Hare have never truly gone away”.

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