Students Get Down and Dirty With Cadavers at UW-L

When it’s dissection day, it means dead critters, latex gloves and obnoxious fumes. Who would voluntarily subject themselves to that? The Human Anatomy and Physiology students would!

The current and past students of this school year took a field trip to the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse to explore cadavers.

Cadavers are the corpses of people who have donated their bodies for science and study. Most of the cadavers the students got to see were around the age of 80 when they died, some from natural causes, others from diseases. UW-L has several cadavers on campus, all on loan from Madison.

“It was a good way to put everything we have learned to use,” said junior Betsy Torkelson. “It was a good learning experience.”

Seeing the insides of dead people isn’t the top priority on everybody’s lists of things to do, but these students took advantage of this special opportunity.

“I thought it was pretty extensive…”said sophomore Brittany Gacek. “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.”

For many people, even the thought of dead people can make them feel sick or queasy. But these students got up close and personal with the cadavers and were able to see the intricate design of the human body.

In order for the cadavers to stay fresh, all of the cadavers were soaked in preservatives, which didn’t exactly smell like a basket of roses. At times, when the fumes were really strong, it was difficult for the students to keep down their breakfasts. But for the most part, they stayed strong.

“The smell was the worst…The only time I came close [to being sick] would have been right away when the smell hits you,” said Torkelson.

But cadavers weren’t the only things they saw. Many organs were placed on tables for the students to get closer looks and compare to other organs. Among these organs were hearts, lungs, livers and even a couple of brains. Of course, everyone was required to wear gloves when interacting with the organs and cadavers so as not to get sick or hurt the subjects.

If the cadaver field trip had to be summarized in one word, most of the students would agree that the word would be ‘interesting.’

“I knew it was going to be interesting and I kind of wanted to get out of school…” said junior Boye Ladd. “I really enjoyed the trip…It was really interesting.”

“It’s interesting to see what’s actually inside us,” said junior Nick Korn. “Especially when you compare the healthy organs to the diseased ones.”

“[My favorite part was] getting to look at and touch the organs on the tables. It was interesting to see what everything looks like and how they felt. And to see the difference between healthy and unhealthy organs,” said Torkelson.

“I learned a lot during the trip and I had a lot of fun,”said Gacek. “It was very interesting.”