Pixie-logo | Dead Body Transportation | Dead Body Preservation

No spoiler: Confessions of an embalmer

By YAGNESH BHARAT MEHTA / The Times of India / Feb 19, 2023

Dr Vinesh Shah and his team have embalmed bodies of 75 fallen BSF jawans

SURAT: His morbid fascination with preserving what will eventually perish may leave some of us thinking about the futility of the process. Dr Vinesh Shah, however, is dismissive of such “uncompassionate curiosity” and believes his job is the epitome of kindness to humanity. An expert in embalming, he remains an unsung hero because those who could have thanked him shall never speak.

Embalming is the process of preserving the human body in its natural form by delaying its decomposition. It involves injecting a combination of chemicals into the body after taking into account its physical features and weight. In many cases, embalming also involves restoring dismembered bodies.

Since 2014, Dr Shah and his team have carried out embalming of over 75 jawans of Border Security Force (BSF) who lost their lives in the line of duty. A PhD in forensic medicine, he runs a forensic and medico-legal consultancy that is officially tasked with embalming bodies for the BSF. The team ensures that the jawan’s body reaches his home in an identifiable condition for the last rites.

According to the regulations in many countries, embalming is mandatory for the international and domestic transit of the deceased. “The airlines demand a certificate from doctors stating the body will be in good condition for at least three days. Our process stalls decomposition for up to seven days , ”Shah said.

He took to embalming after coming across cases where families struggled to preserve bodies that either had to be transported to remote places or stored till the relatives arrived for the funeral. Is the job emotionally draining? “No. We are trained to be emotionally detached,” he said.

His most challenging task was during the demonetization period when he had to transport a body to UP.
“Every year, we embalm about eight bodies of BSF jawans. We have transported bodies to Guwahati, Bagdogra, Odisha and other places. Recently, we sent across the embalmed body of a paraglider to South Korea,” said Shah. “It is hard to put into words the peace the families experience after seeing their loved ones one last time and giving them a dignified farewell. It is humbling to facilitate that,” he added.