The macabre story of Anne, the girl who inspired the mannequin with which resuscitations are learned


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They call it «the most kissed face in the world‘, Although normally love tends to be more for society than for itself. Those who have taken a course first aid They will have noticed that the CPR manikin is a female. The most avipated will have realized that it always has the same face. But few know that it has the same name: Anne. And it is no coincidence. Now, Stephanie Loke Y Sarah McKernon, researchers from the University of Liverpool, have set out to discover the true story behind the world’s most replicated mannequin and the ethical questions it raises in the Christmas edition of the magazine « The BMJ».

Resusci Anne In its best known version, it is also called Annie, Mona Lisa del Sena O “The Unknown of the Seine»(The unknown woman from the Seine, in French). Its connection with the French capital is not trivial. At the end of the century XIX, the police found the corpse of a very young girl on the river of the city of lights. Although she did not have a name and did not know her history, the pathologist who performed the autopsy was so captivated by her beauty that he kept her face shaped like plaster death mask. And he was not the only one: with the intention of identifying her, they placed her in a kind of exhibition with other bodies – something common at the time – and many people came to admire her features. “There is not a single window in Paris that attracts more viewers than this”, was reflected in an album of etchings of the time.

Death mask of 'the unknown woman from the Seine' (1900)
Death mask of ‘the unknown woman from the Seine’ (1900)

From there, his face and his romantic story became so popular that copies were sold all over bohemian Paris. Because no signs of violence were found on his body, the coroner determined that he had suicidal. However, over time, speculation began with stories that ranged from the murder by her lover up to a flight to Paris from Liverpool with a wealthy suitor. “When her twin visited Paris, she was surprised to see a mask that looked like a reflection of herself. It was when he recognized the drowned as his long lost sister», The researchers report, referring to the latter hypothesis.

The face of CPR

The years went by and science advanced. In 1956, it was found that mouth-to-mouth resuscitation could maintain blood oxygen levels in a non-breathing victim, leading to the development of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). When a member of the CPR committee of the American Heart Association observed that the students practicing CPR with each other risked causing broken ribs, approached the doll maker Asmund Laerdal to create a realistic training model.

As he contemplated the design, Laerdal remembered a mask on the wall of his grandparents’ house and decided to make her the face of his new “helper” for resuscitation training, Resusci Anne.

Asmund Laerdal and Bjorn Lind demonstrate CPR in the original Resusci Anne
Asmund Laerdal and Bjorn Lind demonstrate CPR in the original Resusci Anne

Health and ethical issues

Resusci Annie is estimated to have probably helped more than 500 million people gain CPR knowledge, saving around 2.5 million lives. And her face became even more popular, including in pop culture. The line “Annie are you okay?“, Used to check the patient’s response, appeared on the” Smooth Criminal “album by Michael Jackson after the singer was inspired by his own CPR training.

“Now, you can still be captivated by Annie’s beauty by seeing her face all over the resuscitation rooms in the world, but there is another place where you can see her,” Loke and McKernon write. Model makers Lorenzi in Paris, who replicated L’Inconnue’s original death mask, continue to produce copies four generations later».

And the debate aroused by the young woman found in the Seine continues, albeit with other connotations. Although at the time of his death, displaying corpses and circulating death masks was common practice, carrying out this practice with a current body would raise important ethical questions. That is why the researchers ask themselves: “Should we be concerned that their image continues to circulate without anything like consent?” Many questions are still planned around Anne.

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