For the majority of high school students who are interested in learning about human anatomy and physiology, a textbook is the best resource available to them. Or perhaps they can find a digital diagram online that gives a bit more of a three-dimensional image. But now, students at Brentwood Academy have the opportunity to train their minds with a SynDaver – the next best thing to studying an actual human – thanks to a generous anonymous donor.
“We were gifted the SynDaver in December of 2018,” says Susan Shafer, director of communications at Brentwood Academy. “The anonymous donor is a parent here who is very interested in STEM [science, technology, engineering and math], and he saw it on the TV show, Shark Tank. He said it was absolutely something he wanted BA to have, so he took the next step and gifted it to us. It’s a huge blessing.”
The SynDaver is a life-sized, anatomically accurate human model that is typically used by those studying medicine, anatomy or other aspects of the human body. The tissues of the model are made of water, fibers and salts, which are similar to a living organism, so it is very lifelike. The SynDaver comes with replaceable muscles, vasculature, bones, organs and more.
“It’s just phenomenal how lifelike the SynDaver is,” Shafer says. “It makes a world of difference for the students to actually be able to see the part of the body that they’re discussing.”
She adds that for students who are planning to go into medicine as their career, being able to use the SynDaver in studies now provides a decisive advantage before moving on to more advanced studies in college.
This is especially true for senior Betsy Spurgeon. “I’ve wanted to be a surgeon since middle school, specifically a neurosurgeon,” Spurgeon says. "Being able to get the experience that you would get in medical school, getting to see the body and figure out how everything is working, is super interesting.”