Hearts and minds

WCCC provides hands-on anatomy training thanks to donation

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Health and Medical Assisting student Rachael Shattuck points out the mitral valve in a dissected cow heart.

Students in the health and medical assisting program at Warren County Career Center got to the heart of the matter on Thursday.

Thanks to a donation of more than 80 pig and cow hearts from Barry VanOrd and Dan Uber of Coffaro’s Custom Butchering, each student in the program was able to dissect a heart and get a close look at the parts.

Some of the students selected pig hearts which are very similar in size and function to human hearts. Some went for the cow hearts. The larger hearts, about the size of a human head, allowed the students to get better looks at the major parts, Teacher Diane Swartz said.

“This is exciting,” Swartz said. “This benefits them as far as understanding the anatomy of the heart, including the chambers, the vessels, and valves.”

None of the students refused the work. Some chewed mint gum to mask the smell, which was not overpowering. They wore gloves and gowns.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Health and Medical Assisting student Makenna Brown dissects a cow heart.

They had an assortment of tools for performing the dissection. Some fatty areas attached to the outsides of hearts were very hard and difficult to cut.

“I love doing the hands-on,” Amberlyn Bigelow said. “The more hands-on, the more I feel like I know how the body actually works.”

“It’s a fascinating event to be able to have hands-on practice on exactly what it’s going to look like,” John Fankhouser said.

It is not the first time there have been real hearts in the class for examination.

In the past, the program has used deer hearts donated during hunting season.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Health and Medical Assisting students Emily Grimm (left) and Alanna Hultberg dissect cow hearts.

Last year, when the program’s enrollment grew dramatically, there were not enough hearts for each student to have one. And, some of the deer hearts were damaged, having been removed by hunters, rather than butchers.

This year, that was not a problem. “They meticulously cut the hearts out of the animals, preserving the great vessels,” Teacher Kylie Harris said. “They went above and beyond.”

The donation by Coffaro’s enabled every student to work with a heart. In the past, some students had to share.

“This is the first year we’ve all been able to,” Swartz said.

The donation is just one example of the community support for the programs at the career center. “There are so many people who believe in this program,” Harris said. “The support from the community amazes me.”