lmcdonald@thebrunswicknews.com

A hospital morgue serves as an effective backdrop for life lessons.

Michael Mazzotta, a surgical and autopsy pathologist for the Southeast Georgia Health System, took the opportunity Tuesday to dish out some essential advice to participants of the Brunswick Police youth summer camp during their tour of the Brunswick hospital.

“This is going to be for educational purposes,” Mazzotta told the students, who’d gathered closely around his lab table, which was covered in organs and human body parts hidden by blue towels. “There are things here that you guys will learn that you will not see literally anyplace else, except maybe medical school.”

The summer camp, hosted by the Brunswick Police Department, serves students ages 11 to 14. The students learn about daily police operations and visit community partners that work alongside local police, like the hospital.

“It’s to bridge the gap between the police and the community,” said Marsha Myers-Bue, a community service police officer who helps lead the camp. “It’s also to give them a little bit of insight to what we do as police officers.”

The campers’ visit to the morgue followed a tour of other hospital facilities earlier in the day.

Mazzotta spent a couple hours with the students and showed them a wide array of body parts, including a severed finger, a human brain, a gallbladder and a heart.

Nearly every body part Mazzotta showed the students came with some life advice.

“Let’s learn together. Starting with this — People do stupid things,” Mazzotta said, as he held up a nail that he said a couple of misguided, inebriated men managed to shoot into a man’s knee using a nail gun.

“Don’t do it,” Mazzotta advised. “… Or else, what happens? You end up in front of someone’s class.”

Mazzotta emphasized that everyone only gets one body and encouraged the students to take care of the parts of their body that won’t come back once used up, like teeth enamel and joint cartilage. He showed the students an eye ball, which he said isn’t easy to replace.

“Unfortunately, I do only have one. I need a volunteer to give me another one,” he joked, looking around at the group.

A few students did raise their hands.

“Why do you not want to volunteer?” Mazzotta asked a girl standing next to him.

“I need my eyeballs to see,” she explained, in a matter-of-fact sort of tone.

Mazzotta shattered a few commonly held misconceptions during his presentation, informing the students that men can, in fact, get breast cancer and that African Americans can get melanoma.

Mazzotta also slid numerous jokes into the discussion, helping the students laugh despite their apparent shock at what they were seeing on the lab table.

“Suppose you guys go into a coma,” Mazzotta began, talking over a few students laughing.

“Quiet down,” Myers-Bue called out.

“They would be quiet, yes,” Mazzotta joked, before continuing to talk about comas.

“Your sense of smell is the last to go,” he said.

The goal of the police department’s summer youth camp, Myers-Bue said, is to broaden students’ understanding of police and community operations. Their trip to the morgue, along with the numerous other field trips the campers take during the two-week camp, gets the students up close to the lesser-known aspects of police operations.

“It’s just to show them that it’s more besides just taking people to jail and arresting people,” she said.

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