Exploring the tragic tale of ‘most-kissed girl in world’

Life-saving aid: Students use dummies to learn CPR

SHE is known as ‘the most-kissed girl in the world’ after her face became the model for CPR dummies used by millions of people to practise first aid.

But the young woman missed out on the kiss of life when she drowned in the Seine in Paris in the late 19th century.

Researchers have now questioned the ethics of using her image.

The story of the Resusci Annie doll began when a pathologist performing an autopsy on the drowned woman was so entranced by her serene smile that he made a plaster death mask of her face.

Mona Lisa smile: Plaster death mask

Over the years, hundreds of copies of it were sold as trinkets across Europe.

And in 1956, when medics found mouth-to-mouth breathing could maintain blood oxygen levels in an unconscious victim, it gained a new purpose.

A member of the American Heart Association’s CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) committee saw that students practising on one another risked causing rib fractures and pain.

So he approached doll maker Asmund Laerdal to create a realistic training model. Mr Laerdal remembered a mask on the wall of his grandparents’ house in Norway and decided to use that face.

Familiar face: Asmund Laerdal created CPR model using a mask he had seen on his grandparents’ wall in Norway PICTURES: BMJ/SWNS

Doctors Stephanie Loke and Sarah McKernon, of the University of Liverpool, said: ‘Resusci Annie has likely helped more than 500million people to train in CPR, saving around 2.5million lives.’

But the authors added death masks were ethically troubling and queried if it was right to use her face without consent.

The young woman is sometimes called L’Inconnue de la Seine (the unknown woman of the Seine) or the Mona Lisa of the Seine. Stories say she eloped to Paris from Liverpool, where she was either murdered or she took her own life.