- The relative who turns up as a cadaver is most frequently a parent, one who had recently disappeared or hadn't been seen by the student for years because of a divorce.
- Some versions of the legend involve a student's discovering that the cadaver he has been assigned to dissect is that of a friend or famous person.
An actual occurrence of this legend took place in early 1982 at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, where a student discovered that one of the nine cadavers presented to the class (but not the one she was assigned to dissect) was her great aunt. (Even more coincidentally, the student and her aunt had at one time discussed the merits of donating one's body to medical science.) A different cadaver was immediately substituted by the state anatomical board.
One of our readers, a neurologist practicing in NYC, says that when he was a medical student at Dartmouth Medical School in 1958, the cadaver he and his dissection partner were given to work proved to be that of his junior year French professor. He requested a change and was assigned to another cadaver.
Last updated: 30 June 2011
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