Human Anatomy at Colby

Blake McCartney: Body Worlds Vital

February 14th, 2014 · Comments Off on Blake McCartney: Body Worlds Vital

Blake McCartney


I had heard about Body Worlds a while ago, but I had forgotten about it until I found out we were going to see it in this class. I was not really prepared for what it turned out to be – I had only heard vague descriptions. The plastination itself wasn’t disturbing; it was actually pretty hard to believe these were real human bodies! I read the pamphlet on plastination they provided, it’s an interesting process (Body Worlds plastination process).

I just think that the way these bodies were displayed was kind of troubling. All of the bodies were shown doing various activities, or their muscles were arranged in designs. I found one display of a man with his muscles completely splayed out and a top hat on particularly disturbing.  In past years there been debate over the sexist or “heteronormal” poses of the bodies.  However, I thought they did a pretty good job with changing that; I remember seeing a male dancer and gymnast.


The point of the exhibit honestly is not clear to me for reading the Body Worlds website and from the exhibit.  The website states, “the exhibition shows the body through cautionary displays about distress and disease, and inspirational insights about the virtuosity and resilience of the human body”.  I only recall a couple displays about disease – most of them were just poses.

There is definitely supposed to be educational value, but I was disappointed by the amount of anatomical labeling.  I found that the descriptions were pretty vague and not very helpful in figuring out what I was looking at.  The exhibit wasn’t as educational as I had hoped.  For someone who knows what they are looking at the exhibit is informative and interesting, but for the average person – who would be the majority of people who see this exhibit – wouldn’t know what they were looking at.  Before this class I would have just seen it as a freak show.  Now I can identify a lot of parts, but I’m not sure if that’s the message people are receiving from Body Worlds exhibit.

There is a lot of controversy over whether or not informed consent was actually given from the people who donated these bodies.  From the research I did it seems that these people do in fact give informed consent to use their bodies for plastination, although, I’m still a little skeptical.  I feel people should be able to do whatever they want with their body after they die and that these people should have that right.

Personally, I would never subject myself to this; it just seems demeaning to have people pay a company to gawk at you posed in some strange position.  Also, you get no compensation for donating your body – you actua

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Maine General Tour and Grand Rounds with Kent’s Hill

February 14th, 2014 · Comments Off on Maine General Tour and Grand Rounds with Kent’s Hill

Blake McCartney


The tour of Maine General in Augusta and the presentation of Grand Rounds with the Kent’s Hill students was a fabulous experience. Maine General is an amazing facility; it looks more like a hotel than a hospital. Unfortunately, we learned that they slightly under calculated the amount of beds they would need so there is sometimes overflow between the wings. When we arrived Sophie and I went on our tour with a Medical school student at University of New England named Britney. She had great insight on how to get to medical school – and how to decide whether or not you would want to go in the first place. It was interesting, Britney only applied to 6 schools! Most of her classmates applied to around twenty.

University of New England is an osteopathic school, so these students will graduate Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine. Britney described it as being a regular M.D. except when you cannot think of another treatment you use osteopathic manipulation. The most simple explanation was to compare it to using chiropractics. Osteopathic schools are an alternative to Medical School and definitely something to consider in the medical field.

Britney’s biggest piece of advice to us was to keep a routine during Med school, even during exam week. Also, she suggested taking one night off a week from studying – just to keep yourself sane. Panicking doesn’t help your grades, and you need sleep. This was definitely a theme Dr. K focused on during this semester of A&P. I think I learned the first week that cramming and staying up all night a few times in a row is not conducive to success – or a healthy lifestyle. Britney said it took her a long time to learn that though; a lot of her classmates never learned. Ultimately, she recommended staying as de-stressed as humanly possible. This is something I strived to achieve over Jan Plan. I learned a lot about my studying habits and strategies from this Jan Plan. Hopefully I will be a lot more efficient this semester; I think I have learned what does and what does not work. Britney also stressed that people have different learning styles. Some textbooks might not be written in a way that is easy for you to understand. Further, some professors’ lectures might not be helpful; learning those sections from the book might be more time efficient.

After talking with the Medical students we gave our Grand Rounds presentations.  Everyone was very supportive of us; giving a ton of positive feedback.  It was also a great public speaking experience, especially in front of a room full of doctors and Medical school students. Everyone was very friendly, but their level of knowledge was intimidating. I think they all recognized that they were in our position once and were very impressed with the lectures. I would love to have more public speaking experience, so I was really glad we were given this opportunity. I was also really impressed by the Kent’s Hill high school students – I wish I knew that much as a highschooler! This trip was one of the highlights of the class for me.


I actually did not know how much of a commitment this class would be outside of class hours. It wasn’t really what I expected from a Jan Plan class. In the end I am really happy I took this course. It was quite a few ups and downs! I don’t know when I would have learned the things I learned about my study habits. I realized I need to prepare in advance and put a lot more time into preparing for lectures. I usually spend too much time cramming, but I now know it is a lot better for me to let the information process with me over a long period of time.  I got discouraged a lot this Jan Plan and as a result did poorly on some of the assignments, quizzes, etc. It got better though and I am so glad I stuck with it and didn’t quit. I wish this class could have been extended over an entire semester. I learned a ton of anatomy and physiology, but I also learned a lot of valuable things about myself that will help me throughout the rest of my college career. This course was extremely challenging, but we got so many opportunities such as Body Worlds, the Maine General Tour, dissecting the pig heart, among many others. I enjoyed it and think it was a rewarding month.

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Grand Rounds: History and Advances in Kidney Transplantation

January 29th, 2014 · Comments Off on Grand Rounds: History and Advances in Kidney Transplantation

By: Kumba Seddu, Sophie Suechting, Blake McCartney

As of June 21, 2013 96,645 people in the United States await kidney transplants.  Last year, 4,903 patients died while awaiting a kidney transplant. These patients suffer from very advanced chronic kidney disease, which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain life. The two main causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure, which are responsible for up to two-thirds of the cases.

Experimentation with renal transplantation started in humans around 1906. There were many failed attempts using kidneys (and other organs) from animals; this method resulted in tissue rejection and was ultimately fatal. In 1954 Murray performed the first successful transplant with a donor on the identical Herrick twins – the kidney started producing urine immediately. Shortly after, in 1960, Murray performed another successful transplant on twelve year-old twins Johanna and Lana Nightingale. Murray was unable to perform advanced tissue and blood typing, but the transplants worked because the twins were an exact match. Later, advancements for non-twin donor pairs developed. Research also continued in the field of immunology, improving transplantation success rates and decreasing cases of tissue rejection.

Dr. Murray (left) and the Herrick twins.

Dr. Murray (center) and the Nightengale twins.

The kidneys are located in the back of the abdominal cavity in the retroperitoneum. Their function is to filter blood and remove waste from the body. If the kidneys are unable to adequately filter waste products from the blood, the body can enter renal failure. Renal failure requires regular dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain proper bodily functions.

Scientists have always been fascinated with discovering a way to preserve organs for transplantation. It was discovered that there is a reversible effect of hypothermia on the metabolic processes of isolated tissues and that when the tissues are rewarmed their function returns to normal. There are currently two main methods of organ preservation that both freeze the tissues: machine perfusion and simple cold storage. Machine perfusion was researched first as it seemed to most effectively mimic the actual physiology of the organ. Cold storage was discovered soon after and became the primary method of organ storage due to its simplicity, quality of organ preservation, and cost effectiveness. There still remains a debate today as to which preservation method is best, but cold storage continues to be the method of choice due to its simplicity and a lack of clinical evidence advocating for machine perfusion instead.

Due to the increased rate of surgical morbidities, the diseased kidney is usually left in its position. The transplanted kidney is placed in a different position, usually the iliac fossa, using a different blood supply. The renal artery of the kidney, branching from the donor’s abdominal aorta is connected to the recipient’s external iliac artery. The renal vein initially connected to the donor’s inferior vena cava is joined to the recipient’s external iliac vein.

The optimization of the Paired Donor Schema helps to increase the degree of compatibility in recipient and donor antigens. Blood test, Tissue test and cross matching are done on both recipient and donor and the results are then computed into an algorithm from graph theory. A random permutation is done and compatible matches are identified. This reduces rejection and helps better the transplant procedure.






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Tags: Grand Rounds