What are the different ways cadavers are used and why?

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antoinettemcc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Posthumous organ and tissue donation, teaching tools for aspiring doctors and forensic scientists, and crash test dummies are just a few uses for human cadavers. As posthumous donors, the dead gift the living with life-saving organs, eyes, or tissues for skin grafts. As tools for those in the medical professions, cadavers allow medical students to dissect and examine body systems, practice new surgical procedures without fear of repercussions from the “patient” in question, perform experiments, and test pharmaceuticals. In fact, cadavers have been silently instructing medical students since the time of the ancient Greeks.

A cadaver might also be harvested for tissue, muscle, and bone samples to use in slides. For those working in the forensic field, cadavers can provide important information about rates of decomposition as they respond to a variety of different factors: environment, climate, and bug and insect infestation, for example. Finally, as Mary Roach notes in her book Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, the dead may also be employed as crash test dummies by scientists in the automotive industry who desire to study the effect that various types of automobile accidents exert upon an actual human body and to test new safety products.

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