Ryan Blumenthal: Life in the trenches with a forensic pathologist in Africa

Ryan Blumenthal: Life in the trenches with a forensic pathologist in Africa

Forensic pathologist Ryan Blumenthal joined the Scenic Drive to talk about his book, Autopsy

Ryan Blumenthal
Supplied/ Ryan Blumenthal

Ryan Blumenthal is a forensic pathologist. He has published widely in the fields of lightning, suicide, and other areas involving the pathology of trauma. He has been involved in the publication of numerous articles and textbooks.

His chief mission in life is to help advance forensic pathology services both nationally and internationally.

Forensic pathologists are the medical detectives of the modern world and as such, Blumenthal has performed thousands of autopsies and has helped to bring numerous murderers to book. Hunting for clues at a crime scene or for the traces left by a perpetrator on a victim’s body is his passion.

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In Autopsy, he takes the reader behind the scenes in a mortuary and explains what a typical autopsy entails and what the instruments of the trade look like – think oscillating head saw. Blumenthal tells of the hard lessons he learnt as a rookie pathologist (the body of a homeless person should be left in the freezer for two to three days before the autopsy is performed, so the fleas and lice can die first) and the macabre cases he’s worked on (once he discovered a swollen body in a hospital ceiling).

Ryan Blumenthal: Life in the trenches with a forensic pathologist in Africa

Practising forensic pathology on the African continent requires a special skill set, Blumenthal says. For one, there’s the African wildlife to contend with – he has seen deaths from lions, a blesbok, and an ostrich. He is also an expert on lightning deaths and he describes some of the tragic incidents he’s encountered.

Other questions he’ll touch on, include:

  • What relationship advice can be gleaned from the autopsy table?

  • What are the worst smells?

  • What is the best way to die?

As one of the country’s leading forensic pathologists, Blumenthal’s chief goal is to bring perpetrators to justice. Even though they cannot speak, the dead have a lot to say.

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