Sunday, October 25, 2009

Being one feet away from death

The title says it all. My first autopsy.My first encounter inches away from a fresh dead body. The foul smell of death. The fresh stench of blood.

While I was happily watching X-Men: Wolverine The Origin, a call came from Elora. "Hey girl,come faster to the KMC Forensic Department.There's an autopsy.Wear your labcoat.Come quick." I stood stunned for a moment. What?? Now?? I am going to an autopsy?? Oh shit!! My heart started beating like I've ran 40km marathon. Oh gosh! Oh gosh! I hasten to wear my contacts and changed to my tees and black pants, thinking "Oh God! Will I puke later?Oh no, I haven't eaten my lunch!" I quickly raid my fridge for a piece of chocolate, but I'm vegetarian! Pausing, thinking, ok I'm eating it.The Nine Gods will forgive me for this since I'm just gonna eat for once and no way I'm puking in the mortuary!"

Slipping into my sport shoes,I ran out of my hostel and towards the dreaded place. I took a moment to straighten my labcoat and buttoned it up and pulled my phone out from the pocket to put it in silent mode. I check for the current message from Elora. "Just come in" What?? just walk into the hall?? I'm gonna see a dead body now? LIKE NOW??? Oh shit. I walked in cautiously taking deep breaths. Ah! sighs of relieve. My batchmates and some KMC students are still gathered in the hallway.

Chatted a little and made some small jokes on puking and fainting. Suddenly I caught a glimpse of a pair of small feet in a metal tray across the hall in the inquest room.Oh no! It's a kid!! And two men carried the body of the poor girl, looking about the age of 5-7 years old ( you can never tell from the height and weight since a lot of malnourished kids are seen in India) into another hall.

We continued our discussion on the kid and Desmond was saying how you could smell the foul smell if you stand right in front of the hall. So trying to prepare my senses to the smell, I boldly walked to the hall and sniffed. " No...there's no smell yet," I told Desmond. "Got..smell properly" I took another deep breath.."Nooo..where got???" A man walked out and beckoned me to go in. Freaking out, I said " Eh can go in already!! Faster Faster! Sun Quan and Desmond walked in followed by me and Fred and the rest of them.

Ta Da! The girl was lying on the metal trolley.I saw the eyes was closed but not fully. The wrist was broken few inches above the radioulnar joint. The body was still limp and flaccid.No rigor mortis yet. Her head had a bloody wound and a few small cuts on her leg. Other than that, she looked perfectly at peace.Nothing that suggested a violent death.Autopsy starts with measurement all the body parts and wounds. Then without warning doctor just took the scalpel and cut right in the middle from the chin down to the abdomen and pelvic region. The skin and muscle are separated from the rib bones, sliced apart easily like cutting off the skin from the chicken.

Took all the organs out by cutting through the oesophagus and larynx and tongue and the whole body content comes out hanging like a bunch of bananas from its stem.( I can't find a better metaphor)

Then the ribs are examined.Fractured ribs. From the force of accident. Spleen ruptured and fragments of it went into the thoracic cavity,puncturing the diaphragm.And skull was cracked open and brain is removed and weighed.approximately 1. something kg ( Every organ is weighed) Can't remember.
Then organs are sliced and examined. Saw that kidney looks fine. And brain had a hemorrhagic state. Parietal and occipital lobe injury. But nothing compared to the internal haemorrhage of the organs.

Cause of death: Spleen rupture leading to internal haemorrhage from the force of collision. RTA :Road Traffic Accident

Postmortem of This Experience

Emotional Status : I can't believe such a young life, such precious life can so easily be taken away. As I see her dead body being cut open in that way, I can't believe how fragile our human body is.

Physical Status : Still fine.Didnt gag or faint because the smell reminds me of the pig stomach and chicken being slaughtered. So just a strong stench of blood. The sickening salty irony smell of blood
Though my taste bud is completely altered I felt. I drank lime juice in food court with Sarah and Desmond and it didn taste at all like lime juice.Sarah said she could still smell the blood and Desmond told that he had a flu for days and couldnt smell a thing till today when he just got his sense of smell back, he had to smell the bloody stench

Conclusion : Very good experience and considering it's the first case, Im lucky to not get a putrified or drowned body. They say it smell a 100 times worst. Gosh,I can't imagine that.


  1. Carol, I have to give you two thumbs up for this entry. Very insightful for non-med students like me. Heheh.
    I remember freaking out while dissecting a frog once, what more a human!
    Way to go girl! :)

  2. yeah i freaked out too when i saw the video for the 1st time..the way they roughly cut the body violent!