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Johns Hopkins Under Fire For Running Animal Labs

BALTIMORE (WJZ)— It's one of the most prestigious medical schools in the world.

But as Jessica Kartalija reports, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine is under fire for using live animals to train medical students.

A YouTube video shows a "pig lab," an exercise used at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to train surgeons. It's a technique Drs. Martin and Barbara Wasserman--both graduates of the medical school-- call barbaric.

"It is inhumane because animals are brought in, they experience fear, they experience anxiety," said Barbara Wasserman. "They are tied down to the table; they are sedated."

After five years of trying to get Hopkins to do away with animal labs, the Wassermans filed a complaint with the city prosecutor, saying the pigs' pain and suffering is unnecessary, urging the school to use its state-of-the-art technology to teach future surgeons.

"They have a simulation model that teaches you how to make an incision, how to put your hands inside a body that looks like a human being, and that's what we're asking," Martin Wasserman said.

The Wassermans also point out that just across the city at the University Of Maryland School of Medicine, students have been using simulation labs, as opposed to animals, since the mid '90s.

Now they're calling for an investigation, saying animal labs are illegal in Maryland.

"The law says an institution for non-research purposes can't inflict pain unnecessarily on an animal," Martin Wasserman said. "They have continued to not follow the current statutes."

In response to the Wassermans calling for an investigation, Hopkins released a statement:

"The use of live animals in medical teaching at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is rigorously reviewed on  a regular basis by the Hopkins Institutional Animal Care and Use committee."

In the 1980s, medical schools switched from using dogs to pigs because their anatomy is more similar to humans.

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