Shock anatomist on trail of giant

Controversial anatomist Gunther von Hagens, whose touring show of flayed human bodies has shocked Germany, has offered a large sum to giant Alexander Sizonenko, the world’s biggest man, the newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Monday.

The former Russian basketball player (45) is 2,48m tall and weighs 200kg because a tumour has wrecked the part of his brain that regulates growth. The paper said its reporter had seen the 2000 draft contract, which the invalid had refused to sign.

Sizonenko was offered “humanitarian assistance” in the form of a stipend. In exchange he was to gift his body to Von Hagens’s institute of plastination, which removes skin and fat to create inside views of human bodies.

The tissue is set in resin to make it odourless and the gutted bodies are presented like an art exhibition.

The newspaper printed a photo of the giant on a 1999 visit to Von Hagens’s studio in Heidelberg, Germany.

Von Hagens was quoted as saying: “A giant would be of interest to any anatomist.”

The Sueddeutsche said he denied, however, that he had offered money in exchange for Sizonenko’s body after his death, or that he had ever seen the draft contract.

Mikhail Gorba, a friend of Sizonenko from their St Petersburg basketball-team days, told the newspaper he had twice spoken to a Von Hagens aide, Professor Eduard Borsiak, about plastinating the giant.

He said Sizonenko had rejected the contract out of fear “that something awful might happen to him if he signed”.

Von Hagens has been under attack from the German media for several weeks amid claims that many of the plastinated people did not consent before their deaths to their bodies being used.

Germany’s ARD television last year earlier reported Von Hagens’s interest in Sizonenko, who is listed in the Guinness Book of Records.

On his BodyWorlds website Von Hagens said: “We discussed organising a fund-raising campaign for this poor, seriously ill person.
The obvious danger that the Plastination Institute would be accused of ‘buying’ a body donor persuaded me to reject the idea.”—Sapa-DPA

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