Hospital staff find rare skeleton; name him "Mr. Bones"

Mr. Bones, a skeleton discovered by Ottumwa Regional Health Center staff, will be going to Iowa City for research.

When cleaning out the old St. Joe's Hospital, staff members at Ottumwa Regional Health Center made some interesting discoveries -- including one shocking one hanging out in an old closet.

A skeleton affectionately named Mr. Bones caused quite the stir when he was discovered. There's no record of the skeleton from the sisters of St. Joe's, but from talking with staff members who used to work at the hospital, it's believed he was donated to the X-Ray Department for training in the late 1930's.

He is confirmed to be male and probably died in the 1920's, when he was in his mid-80's. Ottumwa Regional staff are hoping research will tell more.

"He's very rare, it's very unusual to find all the fingers and the toes, the cartilage all attached and some of his teeth still, so it makes him very valuable," said Suzie Wood, Director of Development at Ottumwa Regional Health Center. "We really wanted to preserve him, we put him in this case, but we are donating him to the University of Iowa Arts and Medical Museum. They're going to further preserve him and then possibly test some DNA on him, if they can do that, and find out maybe who he was, because we just don't have that record, so he's a great mystery."

Mr. Bones will be on display at Ottumwa Regional for a few days before being taken to Iowa City.

Since most medical classes and training now use fake skeletons, Wood said the university is looking forward to having the real thing.