How a girl’s ‘death mask’ from the 1800s became the face of CPR dolls

For 60 years, medical students have practiced CPR on a dummy doll — dubbed Resusci Annie — compressing her chest and breathing air into her plastic mouth. The face of that dummy, it turns out, isn’t made up. It’s based on the face of a teenage girl found dead in the Seine river in Paris in the late 19th century whose body was never identified but whose visage was captured in a mold, or “death mask.” 

A new paper in the Christmas issue of The BMJ — a special edition of the medical journal that can include lighthearted or outside-of-the-box research — tells how the nameless corpse became a CPR manikin and earned the title of “the most kissed girl in the world.”

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