As a Human Anatomy student, I am one of the lucky ones at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point that has the privilege to study hands-on with a cadaver.
Yes, you read correctly. I, along with many other students working toward their Bachelor of Science, spend many afternoons in a room with a cadaver, locating his organs, tissues and other aspects of the human body.
Although you may not be one of those students, you might be unknowingly passing one of the cadavers, if not all three of them, on your way to classes every day as the cadavers are stored in the buildings we visit most.
The Health Enhancement Center, where we go to watch sporting events, work out and often times attend classes, is also the home to Buddy, a cadaver used by Human Anatomy, Kinesiology and Athletic Training classes.
Buddy, who spends his days sleeping in the HEC, was purchased from the UW – Madison Medical School in the fall of 2006 for an approximate fee of $1,000.
Like most cadavers, Buddy is preserved in a tank that consists of 50% ethanol and 50% distilled water, which is changed once a year to keep him fresh.
“There was a lab modification for Anatomy through the College of Professional Studies, so we decided to utilize a cadaver in our Anatomy course,” said Rory Suomi, Associate Dean of the School of Health, Exercise Science, and Athletics and Professor of Physical Education.
The Pre-Professional students in Human Anatomy use the other two cadavers, stored in the Trainer Natural Resource Building.
Out of the 100-125 students enrolled in Biology 387 each year, the top 8-10 students are invited to dissect the cadaver the following year in Biology 498, Advanced Human Dissection, taught by Robert Schmitz, Associate Professor of Biology.
The first year that Schmitz’s Human Anatomy class has a cadaver, a superficial dissection is performed, ultimately skinning the cadaver. The second year, the students dissect the internal aspects of the cadaver, such as the muscles, the nerves, the heart and much more.
The cadavers used for the Pre-Professional students are replaced each year, whereas the one used in the HEC is replaced every 5-10 years as the students do not use it for dissecting purposes.
When the cadavers are delivered, the information regarding their lives remains unknown in respect of those deceased and their families.
“When the cadaver comes, all we know is if it is male or female. We don’t know the name, where they were from, or even why they died,” Schmitz said.
If the thought of touching one of these cadavers makes you weak in the knees, it’s okay! You are probably not in a major that requires Human Anatomy.