A field trip to DMU

May 21, 2009 —

 by Rishi Shah* (11yrs, Downtown School, Des Moines, Iowa)

Did you ever have an opportunity to go see a real heart? Well, I have when we visited Des Moines University (DMU) in 3rd grade. We were greeted by Dr. Matz, who showed us around campus.

The first thing we did was go to the anatomy lab, where they had all sorts of gruesome body parts. The first one was the brain. It looked like a blob with wrinkles. Did you know that the brain is actually mostly white? It’s made up of 40% purple tissue and 60% white tissue. The next thing we saw was the trachea, or windpipe. It looked like a long, skinny, balloon, which was deflated. The next thing we got to see was the heart. It was a lot smaller than you would think it would be. You could even see the valves! Then, we got to the lungs tray. There were three types of lungs, pink and soft, black and hard, and a pinkish type that had white dots all over it.  The pink one was the healthy lung and the disgusting, black hard one was the smoker’s lung. One part of the smoker’s lung was soft because it had collapsed from smoking. The other set of lungs, the ones with white spots, were lungs that had lung cancer.  Then, we moved on to the tray with the heart and lung still connected. That was cool because the person standing next to the tray showed us all the major parts like the atria, the ventricles, the valves, and part of the aorta.

Then, it was time to go to the auditorium, where Dr. Matz showed us a mannequin. The DMU mannequin lab was one of the best in the USA. They had many different mannequins. They had a birthing mannequin, a CPR mannequin, a mannequin that you could perform minor surgeries on, and the all-purpose mannequin that I already told you about. After Dr. Matz finished explaining this to us, we all got to go down and mess around with the mannequin! It was really cool because Dr. Matz explained how to do some awesome stuff on the mannequin. 

Then came the horrible sound of, “Oh no, it’s 11:30. We have to go!” right as I figured out how to give the mannequin a compression for C.P.R. That was one of the best field trips that I’ve ever been on. Seeing real body organs left a lasting impression on me that I most definitely will treasure for life!

* Rishi Shah is the son of Dr. Yogi Shah, associate dean of Global Health at DMU. This was a paper Rishi wrote for school and graciously shared with us.

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