Urban Prep students visited with the Autopsy Center on March 26 to learn about the field of autopsy pathology. As part of Urban Prep’s “Discover Our City Day,” over 600 of the Bronzeville students fanned out in chaperoned groups throughout the Chicago area to meet with varied professionals, including Dr. Margolis.
They learned about the autopsy procedure but also spoke of their own experiences with loss. Most had had experience losing a loved one, but had also seen death “in the street.” While professional aspirations ranged from engineering to sports-casting, all were curious about how an autopsy works.
A student joined Dr. Margolis in donning protective equipment: from shoe covers to plastic gown. A second student volunteered as our cadaver, coming “alive” again to point out an old scar on his forehead. As the “examination” proceeded, Dr. Margolis clicked through portions of his slide show, Science to Humanity: The Autopsy, to illustrate what the body would actually show during each part of the procedure. Pneumonias, heart disease, damage lungs from smoking appeared on the screen as the dissection progressed.
By the end of the presentation, the students began to share stories and ask questions about disease and illness they or their loved ones had experience. “My mother had pneumonia,” one student shared, after seeing a microscopic slide. He commented on her shortness of breath and long hospitalization. Another, heading towards a career in psychology, commented on the “closure” an autopsy can give.
High schools interested in organizing a presentation with the Autopsy Center should contact the Autopsy Center.