Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Lab Room Refrigerated?
No. The forms in the Lab have already been embalmed and the tissue is fixed. There is no need to keep the room cold.
Is There a Lot of Blood?
No. Most of the blood products are replaced by embalming fluids during the preservation process. These fluids are delivered through the circulatory system. There is some residual clotted blood trapped in some of the arteries and veins. This presents as a very dark chalky substance. There is no blood flow during dissection.
Is the Whole Cadaver on Display? Do I Have to See the Face?
No. The donors are stored in closed stainless steel tanks when not in use. When they are displayed the full form is covered with a sheet, out of respect. Only the portion of anatomy being studied will be on display at any time. For some individuals, viewing the face of a donor can be very disconcerting. Due to this, there is a pre-requisite of attending another pro-section course before viewing the neck, head and brain workshop. This gives participants a chance to see the Lab and become familiar with the forms.
Is There a Smell?
Yes, but it is very manageable. The forms do have to be preserved; however, newer technology has greatly reduced the formaldehyde and phenol used. The most noticeable odor comes from the fluid the forms are stored in over night, which is water and isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. These odors are controlled by 2 heavy charcoal filters place in the Lab that run continually. There is also an exhaust fan that changes ALL of the air in the Laboratory every 10 minutes. You are more than welcome to bring a paper dusk mask with a few drops of essential oil sprinkled on it with you if you are concerned that odor may be an issue for you.
Are My Clothes Going to Smell?
Maybe. You may notice a small residual smell on your clothing once you leave the Lab. This should wash out in the laundry; however, if your clothes do come in direct contact with embalming fluids the smell will be permanent. During a pro-section class there is only small contact with the forms. All participants also wear lab coats in the Lab for both cleanliness and out of respect for the donors.
Do I Get to Touch the Forms?
Yes, in certain instances if you choose to. The forms in the Lab must last for approximately 16-18 months. Due to their fragility and the number of attendees over that length of time, contact is very limited. You will be invited to touch certain tissues that can endure minor handling. Also, there will be samples of other tissues that have already been removed during the dissection process that will be able to be palpated and inspected closely. At no time will you be expected to have contact with any tissues. It is an individual choice.