mahalie

Funeral directors face weighty problem

AN increase in obese corpses has forced Ballina Funeral Home owner Neil Gray to buy larger, stronger stretchers.

Many of the bodies coming into his facility are too big and too heavy for the standard equipment - and it's not just because they're 'big boned'.

The weight of the problem is being felt by others in the industry, including Sydney's Glebe Morgue which has been forced to buy a forklift truck to handle the larger bodies.

"Some people are just big boned, but I've definitely noticed a trend of more obese corpses coming in," Mr Gray said.

"I've recently had to purchase stretchers with a higher load limit to deal with it.

"It's a problem with the Western world, and it's increasing the load on the medical system."

According to a study by forensic pathologist Professor Roger Byard the proportion of obese patients requiring coronial autopsies had doubled from 15 per cent in 1986 to 30 per cent, and the proportion of morbidly obese corpses had increased from 1 to 5 per cent.

Glebe Morgue forensic pathologist Matthew Orde said the larger bodies were putting workers at risk of injury because they were difficult to lift, move and store.

He told Sydney newspapers that putrefaction - the degradation of soft tissue - was speeded up in morbidly obese patients, making handling difficult.

"A fat person will go off more quickly than a skinny person," Dr Orde said.

Kyogle Funeral Service owner Tom Cadet said he had noticed more obese corpses coming in from time to time, but that it was "nothing that couldn't be dealt with".


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