By Mike Smale, Current Staff
When she attended a science lecture, Kylie Schulz didn’t expect to wind up unconscious on the floor.
Kylie, an East junior, fainted during a cadaver dissection at the UW-Washington County campus on Monday, December 2. She is a student in Skip Clark’s human anatomy class, and the class was on an evening field trip to UWWC for a special lecture and the chance to see a real human cadaver and other dissected body parts.
The laboratory was filled with the scent of preservatives and chemicals.
“The smell made my heart start pumping and some adrenaline going. I didn’t know what to expect, so I was excited and nervous at the same time,” said Kylie.
Once everybody had arrived, Dr. Wayne Schaefer, the professor for UWWC anatomy, told the students about how the dissection process works and showed the other dissections happening, such as a human brain, cow eyes, and skulls.
Then, the human body was shown.
“My vision started to get blurry. Then my face and body started to feel really hot. Then I went out.”
– Kylie Schulz
Not more than 10 minutes into the lecture, when Schaefer reached the pancreas, Kylie started to feel not right.
“My vision started to get blurry. Then my face and body started to feel really hot. Then I went out,” she said. “I remember everything that night except for the specific falling.”
Kylie even said that she had a dream in the 10 seconds or so she was unconscious. But, like all dreams, she can’t recall what it was about.
When she woke up, Kylie was in a literally awkward position. Schaefer had lifted her head and arms and Clark had elevated her legs. Clark explained to her that she had just fainted and told her to stay down.
“I was very confused. I couldn’t believe that I had actually fainted,” Kylie said.
After everybody knew that Kylie was fine (they were worried because her head fell straight onto the metal floor), Clark led her out of the room.
“It was so embarrassing that the professor stopped the whole class for me,” said Kylie. Because of the gap in the lecture, every student’s attention had shifted to her.
Once in the hallway and sitting, Kylie was given two options by Clark: Get picked up (since she shouldn’t drive herself home), or go back into the classroom. Kylie called her mom, but her parents had started to go to bed.
“My mom knew I was at a lecture, but didn’t know I was seeing a cadaver,” said Kylie.
Clark decided to give her his jacket, which Kylie described as “huge,” and then he drove her home.
Kylie came home to a very worried and freaked out mom.
“But my dad laughed at me a bit and made fun of me,” Kylie said, with a chuckle.
In the 8 years that Clark has taken his students to UWWC to see a cadaver, Schulz is the fourth student to faint.
Apart from Kylie’s experience, the emotional response from the other students was very positive; students love the cadaver trip.
“Students are very enthusiastic,” said Dr. Schaefer. “They do a unique hands-on occasion and learn by observing. The lab also motivates students to go into the human anatomy field.”
High schoolers agree. East senior Collin Kannenberg said, “It was a great experience to propel yourself into the medical field and to learn about the human body. It was exciting, way better than learning out of a book.”
The cadaver ultimately comes from a person who donated their body to science. The Medical College of Wisconsin’s body donation program will collect donated bodies from the Milwaukee area, embalm them, and store them for future use. Buying a cadaver from the Medical College costs quite a lot of money, especially to a smaller college like UWWC, so St. Joseph’s Hospital helps out by donating to the school for this program.
Once at the college, the cadaver is dissected by the college’s human anatomy class. This generally happens after the muscular and skeletal units are taught. It takes about 3 days to dissect the cadaver, and most work, like dissecting the muscle, is hands-on.
“UWWC is actually the only 2-year college in the state to have a cadaver, so it’s quite exciting,” said Dr. Schaefer. “Life is something to appreciate; the body is a miracle.”
Even if that body faints.
(Photographs by Mike Smale.)