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Hospital Rams Tubes Down Cats' Windpipes  Nearly every medical teaching facility uses human-patient simulators for Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) courses. But St. Louis Children’s Hospital won't budge. They still push hard tubes down the windpipes of cats and ferrets before killing the animals. These intubation exercises do not require animals. PALS own sponsor, the American Heart Association, has publicly stated that it “ does not require or endorse live animal use” and to a certain extent, has disassociated itself from PALS programs that use animals.

Animal experimenters think that as long as they comply with basic care requirements (many don't) under the Animal Welfare Act — what's the big deal? The big deal is this: It is simply unnecessary to reduce any animal's life to isolation, confinement, invasive procedures and death.

Tell St. Louis Children’s Hospital that simulators are relevant to human anatomy and facilitate student feedback.

Letter to
President, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Group President, BJC HealthCare Lee Fetter
Asst Prof of Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine Joseph Donald Gunn, MD
Professor of Pediatrics and Associate Director, Washington University School of Medicine Robert M. Kennedy, M.D.
I am concerned that St. Louis Children’s Hospital still uses live animals in Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) courses — despite public objection and a thumbs-down from the American Heart Association (AHA). Given the accessibility to anatomically advanced simulators, human cadaver systems and other modern options, there is no justification for animal labs.

I understand that PALS students practice intubation upon cats and ferrets in repetitive drills that call for them to drive plastic tubes down the animals’ fragile windpipes. Animals can bleed, swell and scar. Their lungs may collapse. Improperly routed tubes can even kill them. When course exercises end, animals are destroyed.

The American College of Surgeons endorses human-patient simulators like TraumaMan System to practice lifesaving skills. PALS course sponsor, American Heart Association (AHA), doesn’t require or promote animal use. In fact, AHA has advised “that any hands-on intubation training for the AHA PALS course be performed on lifelike human manikins.”

Most PALS programs nationwide have upgraded to animal-free intubation training. Human-based models yield data relevant to pediatrics because size and location of internal organs more accurately resemble human anatomy. Simulators also let trainees repeat procedures as often as necessary.

Please do not schedule future PALS courses, or any type airway instruction, that involves live animals. It is immaterial whether St. Louis Children’s Hospital complies with basic care standards set forth in the U.S. Animal Welfare Act. It is simply unnecessary to reduce any animal’s life to isolation, confinement, invasive procedures and death.

Thank you,