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Gaining knowledge from the dead

Very few undergrad universities in the United States have cadaver labs for students to enhance their knowledge about the anatomy of the human body. Fortunately, BYU-Idaho is among the few that do.


The cadaver classes are not limited to physics and biology majors (mainly those studying pre-med, PT and PA). In a recent interview with Joseph Anderson, a professor in the biology department, he mentioned art and music major students have access to the cadaver lab.

Anderson also mentioned that the students who use the cadaver lab have the advantage of learning from intact bodies rather than the plastic models and 2D images students at other universities learn from. Students who took the time to use the cadaver lab have been known to excel tremendously in the fields or careers they choose to pursue.

Anderson said the cadaver lab has been a part of the university’s curriculum since Rick’s College.

In another interview, Yered Ortega, a senior studying physics, talked about three major rules or proper etiquettes that students should learn and practice while in the cadaver lab.

The first rule he mentioned is to have respect for the cadavers. Always remember the cadaver was someone’s grandma, grandpa, father, mother, son or daughter, and they wouldn’t appreciate someone making immature jokes or gestures to their family member.

The second rule is to not take pictures of the cadavers because it violates Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act laws.

The third rule is to keep the cadavers in a condition where they can be preserved for future students to study them. This includes making sure the face and private areas of the cadaver are covered, moistening the bodies with a formaldehyde solution and keeping them wrapped in a plastic tarp, black body bag and metal casing when the cadavers are not being examined.

Students should also constantly wash their hands and wear gloves while working.

The University of Utah Body Donor Program donated the cadavers to BYU-I. There are usually six cadavers always held inside the lab, and through proper upkeep, the cadavers can be kept in the lab for up to a year.

When the cadavers have served their purpose or maxed out the time they can be held in the lab, they are returned to the University of Utah where the bodies are cremated, and the remains are given to the surviving families.

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