When the first-year medical students at Table 4 met their male cadaver, they weren’t pleased.
The group was in the home stretch of anatomy class at NYU School of Medicine, and the final exam was a couple weeks away. They had dozens of vessels, nerves, and organ components to memorize.
And this cadaver was an interloper. They had grown attached to the first body they were dissecting -- an elderly woman whose chest cavity was nice and neat, but whose intestines were so ravaged by cancer there was no point in working on her anymore.
But this new body on Table 4 proved more challenging, they said.
“Now we can’t see anything in our new body [in the chest], and we can’t refer back to that first work we did,” said student Samantha Ayoub, expressing the frustration of her six-person group.
Medical school instructors often refer to the cadavers as the students’ “first patient.” There are about 20,000 of them donated to U.S. medical schools each year, according to the Harvard Business School.