Cadaver Lab FAQ

There are all kinds of cadaver labs! (I added that exclamation mark to distract you from the fact that I’m saying: there are lots of kinds of cadaver labs.) Cadaver labs are where people use cadavers (dead bodies) to study a variety of things, including human anatomy, the way diseases work, or what might have caused someone’s death.

The one that most people have heard of is the anatomy lab. That’s where a group of medical students will have a single, embalmed cadaver for the entire year. That particular cadaver will be the way they learn about the inside of the human body.

The lab I worked for (like the one Fovea’s parents have) was a surgical lab. Students would come in to practice surgeries so they were prepared when it was time to do surgery on a live person.

Some people choose to donate their bodies to science after they die. It’s usually something they put in their wills or on their driver’s license. My grandparents donated their bodies to science—that was actually part of my inspiration for writing the book.

A lot of medical schools hold interfaith memorial services at the end of the year for the cadavers they’ve learned from. Sometimes the families of the people come to the service and celebrate the fact that their loved ones have still helped people, even after death.

In some ways, it’s very realistic! Like Fovea, one of my jobs as the receptionist was to order body parts. Unlike an anatomy lab, a surgery lab only needs one specific part at a time. Just like the heads in the book, the parts would come frozen, and we’d defrost them so they could be used. Unlike the heads in the book, none of them ever talked to me.

Another way that it’s not realistic is that there’s no such things a storefront cadaver lab. I made that up. My lab, like a lot of cadaver labs, was part of a medical school.

Approximately one hundred billion tons.


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