A curious history of famous body parts

For Halloween this year, we have a special treat for you. Medical historian Suzie Edge’s hobby is telling her hundreds of thousands of followers on TikTok the true health histories of famous people throughout history – from Jonathan Swift’s syphilis, to the time, hundreds of years ago, that angry Dutch rioters killed and partially ate their prime minister.

And she’s got a new book out called Vital Organs, which I had a chance to sit down and talk to her about. It zeroes in on, you guessed it, the stories of specific body parts in history. From Napoleon’s penis to the surprisingly fashionable fistula surgery King Louis XIV received. And even the research ethics of some of the earliest cases of medical miracles, like Alexis St. Martin, who lived for decades after an accident left his stomach partially open to the world.

One word of caution: this is an interview about the human body, and also the things that can go wrong with it. So as you might guess, you may find sections of it gory, gruesome, or otherwise difficult. And that’s completely understandable. If that’s not your thing, please come back to us for the weekly show on Friday! But if you’re game…continue on.

Transcript to come


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