Urge the University of Virginia to End Live Animal Use for Surgery Training

Right now, pigs are being killed to train general surgery residents at the University of Virginia (UVA). 

UVA directs physicians to perform invasive surgical procedures on live pigs despite significant anatomical differences. Compared to humans, pigs have smaller torsos, lighter limbs, and thicker skin. There are also important differences in the anatomy of the head and neck, internal organs, rib cage, blood vessels, and the airway.

Currently, 72 percent (154 of 214) of surveyed general surgery residency programs in the United States exclude live animal use from training. In fact, all other Virginia programs use only human-based training methods—including Carilion Clinic-Virginia Tech, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Inova Fairfax Medical Campus, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, and Virginia Commonwealth University. Instead of animals, human-patient simulators, laparoscopic simulators, virtual reality simulators, and human cadavers are widely used.

Simulators accurately mimic human anatomy and can include layers of lifelike skin, fat, and muscle. UVA already has a state-of-the-art facility—the Medical Simulation Center—which offers a range of training options that could replace animal use in the general surgery residency.

No animal deserves to suffer and die through this horrific practice! It's wrong, especially when there are superior, nonanimal training methods available.

Sign the petition to the University of Virginia today!                         

Dear Dean Wilkes and Drs. Adams and Friel,

I am writing to ask that you modernize and humanize medical training at the University of Virginia (UVA) by ending the use of live animals in the general surgery residency program. UVA's surgery residents are instructed to cut into live pigs to practice open and laparoscopic procedures. However, there are validated and widely available methods that allow trainees to repeat procedures and hone their skills—without harming animals.

Currently, 72 percent of surveyed general surgery programs in the United States use only human-relevant training methods, such as human-patient simulators, laparoscopic simulators, virtual reality simulators, human cadavers, and partial task trainers. In fact, all other Virginia programs exclusively use human-based methods. UVA's state-of-the-art facility—the Medical Simulation Center—could provide the resources to end animal use immediately.

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