It’s Saturday morning and we’re sitting around talking about our cadaver lab experiences. What else do you do on a Saturday?!
My husband had this experience in medical school. Our son visited such a lab in high school for his anatomy class. I, while a nursing student, had to dissect cats, frogs, and sheep eyeballs in the school’s anatomy lab. We all enjoyed our experiences no matter how grotesque. Our son’s girlfriend will visit a cadaver lab this week. She’s not sure what she’ll see so we were helping prepare her! Since she’s a student of voice, going to a cadaver lab will give her exposure to a huamn larynx.
Our family tends to have odd conversations like this. It’s fun to compare life experiences when your children become young adults. It allows us older folk to recall and connect with those younger who have similar or will have similar experiences in the near future.
Anatomy lab never grossed me out. Even the smell of the preservatives didn’t bother me too much. My husband claims to have enjoyed his gross anatomy lab as well and never had problems with the dissection or smell. Doctors and those in health professions need to see the inside of a body to help understand how it works and also what diseased organs look like. No two bodies are the same so sharing observations among classmates is paramount. On more than one occasion, I can remember being “called over” to observe a unique finding in one of the animals we dissected in the name of science. I’m sure this was more commonly experienced when there was a whole roomful of human cadavers to examine.
My mom has talked about donating her body to science. When she was critically ill this past fall (not COVID), we rifled through her wallet to find the card that stated she was registered as a potential donor to the local medical school at the University of Rochester. We don’t know if they’d actually take her body, and fortunately, we did not have to find out. She recovered.
But, the cadavers come from somewhere. It’s a generous gift for those who believe there is some value to learn from the dead. Fortunately, there are people who see science and learning from a body that was once living as important. I know I always felt gratitude when I was able to learn from this gift.