YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Protestors gathered outside St. Elizabeth Hospital in Youngstown Thursday.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and its supporters began their demonstration at 11 a.m. with about 20 people. The group is upset with the hospitals’ affiliation with NEOMED in Rootstown where medical residents cut into live pigs to conduct procedures, and the pigs are killed after the training session.

“We’re protesting the fact that St. Elizabeth Hospital is one of a very shrinking minority of hospitals that still train their surgeons using pigs,” said Dr. Jacob Dijkstra. “That the leadership of NEOMED will put some pressure on the surgical department here to change their attitude.”

The demonstration also included mobile billboards that circled St. Elizabeth during the protest.
The group wants the doctors’ training to use more simulators. The group says 80% of surgery residencies in the U.S. do not use animals.

“There’s every technology at our disposal, to not have to hurt another living sentient being,” sai Ellen Dent, with The Plant Based Treaty.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine says the human-like training devices are so lifelike, they even bleed and have a heartbeat.

“They have very lifelike tissue like skin, fat, muscles, organs, they can bleed,” Dijkstra said. “They can breathe, and the most important thing is that they can be sued over and over again.”

Mercy Health issued a statement in response to the demonstration:

The Mercy Health – St. Elizabeth Youngstown general surgery residency program fully complies with all laws, regulations, guidelines and ethical standards for the treatment of animals in its medical education program. In addition, our surgical training methods follow strict protocols set by our graduate medical education faculty. These techniques are designed to train our highly skilled surgeons in advanced, complex surgical procedures to prepare them for real-world surgical cases. The animals receive constant care and monitoring to prevent pain and suffering, including using anesthesia.

Our training program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and also incorporates laparoscopic and robotic surgical simulators, donated cadavers and partial task trainers.

Bon Secours Mercy Health