Cadaver Essay Response


                My anticipations of the cadaver lab were ones of excitement, anxiety, and opportunity. I was so excited to be able to go to a cadaver lab as a freshman in college, at the Mayo Clinic nonetheless. It is experiences like these that I am so thankful for. Because had I not chosen the University of Minnesota Rochester, I would have been lectured at another university for several class periods on the amount of information I learned during the cadaver lab. I was anxious because I had never done a Cadaver lab before. I have handled dissections well in the past, but I did not know how a human body was going to affect me. I suppose it did not help that I ate a sloppy barbecue sandwich beforehand, but I knew my stomach could handle the pressure.


                The minute I walked into the laboratory, the stench of formaldehyde filled my nostrils. I saw several long metal tables the length I assumed suitable for the cadavers. Immediately I searched the room for dead bodies, but I found none. Instead, we were all lead into a room with several tables later used for demonstration. All of us students gathered around the perimeter of the room as the doctors and medical students stood in the middle. The doctors opened up the floor for a little Q and A time with the medical students. There were three students, two of which were in their first year and one that was in his third year. Each gave us a bit of insight on what medical school was like and what to expect as well as how to prepare for getting in. The students were very personable and friendly. Medical school, in my eyes, seems like such a daunting and difficult task. But standing in the midst of the medical students made the process seem a little more feasible. It was a motivation I could not have gotten from any other experience.


                We then split up into groups and proceeded to examine the contents of the 3 tables used for demonstration. I began at the brain table. As the doctor lifted the towel off of the grapefruit sized brain, each student gazed in awe. I had dissected a sheep brain before, but I never experienced a human brain tangibly and ready to be examined in my very own hands. Next was the table with all the surgical replacements. The doctor showed us a number of different metal rotating cups, a breast implant, a pace maker, an insulin pump and artificial heart valves. It was interesting to see how far technology has come in order for us to be able to replace various body parts with artificial ones. By the time my group reached the skeletal table, the attention of all the students shifted to the two completely covered bodies that had reached the other room. Everyone quickly took their places at the edge of each table in order to get a good look at what was the majority of the class’s first cadaver. As the doctors and medical students revealed the abdominal area of the body, I felt my insides churn a bit. Though I knew I was not going to be sick by any means, the thought of examining a dead human being quickly came to reality. Each student took turns passing around various organs of the frail old woman that lie on the table. Though we could not see her face, I could not help but think of what her life must have been like. What made her decide she wanted to donate her body to research? It is people like her that I am so blessed to have the opportunities I do.


                It was interesting passing around the heart, lungs, and liver of the old woman. The lungs felt of sponges while the heart was hard from the formaldehyde. The insides of the woman were tainted a dark green from the gull bladder. And the intestines coiled in a jumbled mess in her lower abdomen. After examining the old lady for quite some time, I moved over to the other body lying on the other side of the room. The man was a lot bigger than the old woman which made the rest of his organs a lot bigger in size as well. But before I had a chance to really examine the other cadaver, it was time to leave.


                The experience was not only eye opening, but it provided me with the motivation I needing to get me ready for medical school. I realize the work ahead of me, but I know the work will pay off in the end.