And what kind of qualifications does one need to remove warm body parts from dead people? In some cases, a simple trade certification. In others, an associate’s degree. But, by in large, all you really need is what their clients don't have... a pulse!
While organizations like the American Association of Tissue Banks do offer certifications in tissue removal, most jobs are filled by people with flexible schedules and a willingness to learn. And almost all of the training is done on-the-job.
“I’m not good at science,” says Bert Lubbock*, whose first job out of college was as an organ and tissue removal specialist. “I told them that and they said ‘Oh no, we’ll train you. Just give us your schedule.’” A few weeks later, he was standing over a corpse in Rapid City, SD, learning how to remove a femur for bone marrow. After a few nights of watching a senior specialist in action, it was his turn to be the bone collector.
“I wasn’t nervous the whole drive,” Lubbock says. “But when we got there, they wheeled the body out from the freezer, and I’m like ‘Whoa, I’m about to cut that guy open.’"
But let's be clear, newbies like Lubbock don’t remove vital organs like hearts and brains. Those extractions are reserved for team leaders, typically technicians with more experience or AATB certifications.