Teresa Tindal, June 5, 2019
When I was in college I had hoped to go to medical school. I was working to pay for college and tired of waiting tables so I enrolled in medical laboratory school at the Regional Occupational Program in Fairfield, California which was just a mile or two down the road from Travis AFB and David Grant Medical Center. David Grant is a large, state of the art facility that is used for training new military laboratory technicians. They have a phenomenal training program and it was a great privilege to be included in the Air Force lab as part of my laboratory training.
My training included rotations through the major departments within a large, medical lab. I did rotations through hematology, cytology, histopathology, microbiology, blood bank, blood drawing, and lab rounds. Each department appeals to certain people for different reasons. If you’re extremely type A and meticulous about your work, then blood bank is a good place to work. However, as a pre-med student, my favorite department was histo-pathology because I learned so much about anatomy, pathology, systems and function both on the macroscopic and microscopic scale.
Whenever anything is removed from one’s body it is sent to the pathology lab to look for signs of disease or dysfunction. Specimens are dissected in something called the “gross” and then set into wax blocks to later be cut very thin onto slides and stained. Another duty of the pathology lab is to conduct the autopsies. The pathologist conducts the autopsy, sometimes more than one pathologist, with at least one assistant per pathologist.
Once I completed my lab training I was very lucky to gain employment in the pathology lab at Travis AFB. It was a major medical center with a high volume of cases and we’d see an average of two to four autopsies per week. My job, as the assistant, was to assist the pathologist in his examination. This would include getting the body from the morgue to the examination room, preparing for examination, having all of the appropriate instruments ready, assisting during the examination, opening the cranium, taking notes, and cleaning up afterwards. I’ve assisted in many, many autopsies and I know medical labs very well. After the recent documents regarding the purported “Alien Autopsy,” I realized I needed to re-watch the video.
The video is known as the Santilli tape and was first aired on the Fox network on August 28, 1995. I remembered seeing it once, as a teenager, but I had never viewed it again after my own lab experience. So now that I’ve watched it again I have some thoughts, purely from the perspective of a pathology assistant.
The first thing that strikes me is the table that the body is on. This appears to be a gurney or something. Autopsies are a giant mess. They really are. Blood, stomach, and other contents can get absolutely everywhere. In the autopsies that I’ve participated in, there were special tables for this purpose. These are elevated, shallow, steel tubs that can be rinsed out and cleaned thoroughly in between cases. Autopsy tables have a drain and a hose at one end to facilitate cleaning.
Another point that I noticed is that the people in the video do not appear to be wearing respirators. The worst thing about autopsies is not the gore. It’s the smell. As techs, we used to fight over who would get the best respirators and even then the smell could still seep in. Now consider that we are talking about a possible unknown life form. I can’t imagine that if respirators were available in the 1940’s that they were not using them. If not to reduce the odor but for bio-hazard purposes so as not to inhale any possible pathogens.
Another point I thought was noteworthy was the poor lab practice of one of the technicians. At some point one of the technicians picks up a pencil and starts writing with his gloved hands. This is very bad lab practice and is basic hospital hygiene 101. If a person has gloves on in the hospital one is taught to automatically assume that one’s hands are contaminated. This means that if you want to touch anything other than the patient, you first remove your gloves. This is part of what is known as Universal Precautions. It’s absolutely taboo to touch anything with gloves on in the lab or the hospital. So unless Universal Precautions were different in the 1940’s, a well-trained, military laboratory technician or pathologist would not be picking up a pencil and touching a document with contaminated, gloved hands, possibly spreading bio hazardous contamination.
The chest cavity cut is not like one I’ve ever seen before. When a chest cavity is opened I always saw what is known as the “Y” cut. This starts near each under-arm, meets at the center of the top of the rib cage, and then proceeds down the center of the abdomen. I have never seen a “Y” cut start around the neck. Not to say that doesn’t happen, I have just never personally seen that before. However, when they begin to peel aside the skin of the chest cavity on either side that is called “undermining” and was done accurately.
The examination of the cranium was fairly accurate from my experience. However, we had electric bone saws to remove the top of the cranium. I’ve certainly never seen anyone use a handsaw for this procedure but the cut was accurate. I was also impressed by the way the blood began to ooze when the skin was cut. That, too, was fairly accurate. Another accuracy was the weighing of the organs upon excision. Whenever any organ is removed it is weighed and noted.
I’m not sure what the level of sophistication was in the field of pathology in the 1940’s but I know that now all of those organs would be sent for gross examination. Samples would be cut, embedded into wax blocks, and then thinly sliced and placed onto slides for microscopic examination. The cellular structure would be studied under microscope. The blocks and slides would be labeled and stored.
It’s probably also worth mentioning that most medical doctors do not have much experience with autopsies. In my experience in the medical field, MD’s are primarily exposed to autopsies during medical school for the purposes of anatomy. After that, unless one goes into pathology, the vast majority of medical doctors do not participate in autopsies and wouldn’t be familiar with standard procedures. However, MD’s are certainly qualified to comment on anatomical structure and anatomical function.
There are other considerations as well. Truly, if an autopsy were to occur on an extra-terrestrial, I’d imagine that the strictest precautions would be taken. It would have to be presumed that the ET would be a huge bio hazardous risk. I would expect full on bio hazard suits, respirators, and a pressurized, air-filtered room for the autopsy to take place. While the autopsies I participated in took place in a state of the art medical facility, I don’t know that an official would risk transporting a presumed high-risk, bio hazard to a medical facility for autopsy. I’d expect there would be special facilities for just such occasions, the same as if an autopsy were to be performed on someone with something highly contagious like Ebola. I have not participated in any sort of extremely contagious, high-risk autopsy, however, so this is purely speculation based upon my experience.
Considering I don’t know what pathology and lab procedures were like in the 1940’s, when this video was purported to be made, I can’t say with certainty if it is real or fake. There are some very real elements to it and some suspicious ones as well. Like so much in this field, the truth seems to be more complicated and elusive than it appears at first glance.