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01 July 2008

A funny story involving work and brains. I work for the state's organ and tissue donation organization. Much like funeral home directors and medical examiner staff, you have to have a strange sense of humor to do what we do day in and day out.[More:]

We had a donor last night that opted to donate brain tissue to medical research. This doesn't happen very often, and it doesn't happen unless the donor has made arrangements before death.

The coordinators packaged up the tissue in a sealed plastic bag, in a styrofoam box filled with dry ice. They then put the styrofoam box into a sealed plastic biohazard bag and then into a cardboard box for shipping. We ship tissue similar to this all of the time, with exception of the sealed biohazard bag. If you have any experience with dry ice, you will know that it changes from a solid directly to a gas (sublimation).

Coworker: What's wrong with that box?
Me: What? *turns* Oh my God!

The box had expanded into a nearly perfect sphere. We could watch the box expanding and moving. We both stepped a good ten feet back, and discussed the ramifications of it exploding. I declared that were I to be covered in frozen brain tissue, I would be going home for the day.

Another coworker arrived and saved us all from exploding brain tissue by poking a hole in the sealed biohazard bag. She explained that even if it had exploded, the dry ice and the brain tissue inside the styrofoam box would not have been harmed or sprayed upon anyone.

But I still have the heebie jeebies.
This is way worse than the time FedEx delivered a cooler with two legs inside.
Whoa, what a job. I am glad you are doing it and not me.
I am also glad that you didn't get sprayed with frozen brain chunks.
Good day all around.
posted by rmless2 01 July | 15:40
rhapsodie, that is absofuckinglutely hilarious and you rock.
posted by By the Grace of God 01 July | 15:45
OMG there are jobs like that?

Must tell daughter. . .she'd love it.
posted by danf 01 July | 15:48
Man, I'm glad that didn't turn out to be a gruesome experience. Because as it is, it's really hilarious. :D

Though if it had happened, I hope you'd have broken out with some quotes from this famous scene. I can just picture you and your co-worker kneeling on the floor...

Well, I'm a mushroom-cloud-layin' motherfucker, motherfucker! Every time my fingers touch brain, I'm Superfly T.N.T., I'm the Guns of the Navarone! IN FACT, WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOIN' IN THE BACK? YOU'RE THE MOTHERFUCKER WHO SHOULD BE ON BRAIN DETAIL! We're fuckin' switchin'!
posted by BoringPostcards 01 July | 15:53
Awesome. Also (and I bet gaspode knows this trick) if you stick a teeny chip of dry ice in an Eppendorf tube, close it and set it on its lid, the pressure will pop the lid and you get a little mini rocket launch off the lab bench. And no risk of brain tissue going on you!

And I knew one guy who'd chew(!) a little piece of dry ice and exhale mist. Apparently the secret is not to let it sit in one place in your mouth so it doesn't freeze to your skin.

Thanks for listening to my dry ice stories. I'll be back in town next month talking about liquid nitrogen.
posted by Joe Invisible 01 July | 15:55
(hee! hours of fun, Joe Invisible, hours of fun.)
posted by gaspode 01 July | 16:13
Oh man, Joe Invisible, I remember making dry ice rockets out of those plastic tubes in chem lab.

OMG there are jobs like that?

There are! And we're hiring! Join Our Team And Experience The Thrill of Exploding Brains!
posted by rhapsodie 01 July | 16:31
posted by ColdChef 01 July | 18:51
FedEx delivered a cooler with two legs inside.

If I was that driver, I would've been way too tempted to walk in singing "I got legs/know how to freeze them.."
posted by jonmc 01 July | 18:58
That was hilarious. So is this, which was the first thing that sprang into my brain when I heard about the legs.
posted by mygothlaundry 01 July | 19:55
I know a kid who damn near blew his thumb off with dry ice. And my dad had a beaker full of peroxide explode in his hand once too.

(Yeah, I know a lot of chemistry geeks.)
posted by Fuzzbean 01 July | 22:57
If I was that driver, I would've been way too tempted to walk in singing "I got legs/know how to freeze them.."

Our FedEx guy once delivered a box with all of the appropriate Dry Ice labels and warnings, but the box had been punctured and it was leaking. His eyes were wide and freaked out. He wouldn't touch the box once it was in his truck, certain it was some leaky organ or another, and made me climb in to get it. When he delivered the cooler, he said, "I just don't even want to know."
posted by rhapsodie 02 July | 01:08
So this otter walks into a bar ... || Original Scarlett is not engage!