Thursday, March 19, 2015

The San Quentin Testicle Transplants

Experimentation on human beings is not a new concept. It was done many times throughout history from Cleopatra to the Nazis and then some. What came as a surprise to me was the history of this practice at San Quentin State Prison, the very same prison that is featured in the second Katrina Stone thriller The Death Row Complex.
Lethal Injection Room, San Quentin State Prison, public domain

I saw this story on Mysteries at the Museum and had to Google it to find out more.

The story revolves around Dr. Leo Stanley, San Quentin's chief surgeon in the early 20th century. Evidently Stanley had a fascination with the elusive formula for the fountain of youth, and he happened to be practicing medicine at the same time when the field of endocrinology (the study of hormones and their functions) was in its infancy.

Stanley hypothesized that old men could be made young again through testicular transplants, and he was in the perfect place to test his hypothesis. He was working in an environment with active execution facilities, and the majority of those executed were young, healthy men. Stanley began grafting the testicles of healthy young men who had been executed onto elderly inmates… and it worked. The elderly men reported feelings of rejuvenation and it appeared that Stanley had turned back the clock. The jig was up when a family excavated their deceased loved one and found out that his testicles had been removed without their permission.

During his tenure at San Quentin, Stanley also experimented with eugenics and forced sterilization of prisoners.

This blog post explores a non-fictional theme or locale that is incorporated in The Death Row Complex, the second Katrina Stone novel. Buy The Death Row Complex in print or ebook.

An anonymous warning is sent to the White House, and a genetically engineered biological weapon is released in a California prison. The unpublished data of biologist Katrina Stone may hold the key to harnessing the lethal bacterium--and to its creation within the desperate world from which biotechnology is born.



Kristen Elise, Ph.D. is a drug discovery biologist and the author of The Vesuvius Isotope and The Death Row Complex. She lives in San Diego, California. 

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