GARY | Clusters of students in blue scrubs and red scrubs gathered around the glow of shadow boxes Friday morning, studying backlit X-rays they had just taken.
It was the first of two days of creating medical images of cadavers in preparation for the International Human Cadaver Prosection Program at the end of the month at the School of Medicine at Indiana University Northwest in Gary.
The annual prosection program allows nonphysician and nonmedical student volunteers to prepare anatomical donors for medical students, who will further study the cadavers in a gross anatomy class in the fall.
Munster resident Megan Stacy, a second-year radiology student at the Gary campus, joined her peers in taking images of skulls, abdomens and chests.
Students typically work with a phantom, which is an artificial organ encased in hard plastic. Using a human cadaver offers a more realistic experience, said Robin Jones, clinical associate professor of radiography at IUN.
With donors, students can take multiple images if needed, because exposure to radiation is not a risk, as it is with live patients, she said.
Stacy said the experience made her think about the donors' sacrifice. She is grateful people gave their bodies to science so students can learn.
This is Stephen Koveck's third time in the program. The Valparaiso resident is a senior at the university, studying chemistry and pre-dental courses.
One of his most memorable cases involved a donor who had a pacemaker. It was interesting to see the device and its leads, he said.
Working with donated bodies has helped Koveck's appreciation for donors' families, as the donation process begins 24 hours after death, he said.
Also returning this year is Dr. Jose Mas, a veterinarian who also is a faculty member at Ivy Tech Community College in Gary.
His participation in last year's program led to a joint research project with program Director Ernest Talarico Jr.
The two are studying frontal lobe disorders, using the brain of a donor from several years ago, he said.
Mas said the program is a good anatomy refresher.
"For anybody interested in the human body, it's a great opportunity to get firsthand participation," he said.
Mas said some of his anatomy students have observed parts of the program, which enhances their learning.
The cadavers will be taken by ambulance Saturday to Methodist Hospitals Southlake Campus for high-resolution CT scans and MRIs before the imaging part of the program wraps up. The cadavers then will be stored until the next part of the prosection program begins July 30.
Courtesy of the Times.