Livin’ it up in cadaver lab

Joshua Meribole–Staff Writer

In the new Science Building, there is a room about 20 feet long by 18 feet wide. And in that room lie two bodies – a man and a woman. They are cadavers, or “donors”; people who have given up their bodies to science after they’ve passed away. This semester, Dordt’s anatomy class gets to dissect bodies for the first time.

“In the past, students got pretty good training in human physiology [but] the anatomy was a little bit more difficult,” biology professor Tony Jelsma said. “To be able to dissect a human body, it makes it more real.”

BIO 327 is a one-credit class that requires student to spend 40 hours dissecting. Before taking the dissecting class, however, students are required to take BIO 325.


Kasey Vanden Bosch is a senior biology and Spanish major, who did all 40 hours in one week, spending approximately eight hours each day dissecting. After college, Vanden Bosch plans to go to medical school, and she said working with cadavers now is a nice introduction to graduate school. After seeing a cadaver in high school and college, this is the first time she has gotten to work on one herself.


“It was definitely weird the first day we walked in, because they’re people, but once you actually get to dissecting it kind of becomes more of the science behind it,” Vanden Bosch said.

Senior biology major Tairin Van Tol emphasized the significance of working with these bodies. She said it’s a privilege to be able to even have a cadaver lab, and she appreciates the sacrifice those people have made by giving their bodies to science.

“We don’t name, we don’t make rude comments or anything, just being respectful to their sacrifice,” Van Tol said.


Prior to Dordt getting a cadaver, students went to the University of South Dakota medical school to see a cadaver, and to see what other students had done.

“There are moments that you have, that ‘Wow, this is a real person,’ like having a painted fingernail or holding a hand up, and you realize this was a real person,” Van Tol said.

It was not very easy to acquire the bodies. Professor Jelsma said he worked with USD, but they too were short on donors.

But this did not deter him. He went on to ask two other colleges, which led him to the University of Iowa, who gave him the donors he needed. Dordt has been given cadavers for a year, and in May, will return them to receive two new ones. To keep the bodies cool, the room is kept at a temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and it has a ventilation system to help with the smell. The room also has cameras to monitor and allow students to get a good view of what is being done.

“The opportunity to see God’s handiwork in the human body, it’s amazing,” Van Tol said. “Very few undergraduates have that opportunity. I think it gives us an edge for graduate school.”

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