Embalming is process performed to temporarily preserve the body so that it can be viewed at a funeral or memorial service. It is as a process that involves using chemicals to temporarily preserve and disinfect the body of a deceased person. It involves removing bodily fluids and replacing them with chemicals that help to prevent decomposition and restore the body to a natural appearance. Disinfection and public health are two of the goals of embalming.
The disinfection aspect of embalming reminds me of a time when I prepared the remains of a person that had Necrotizing fasciitis. Necrotizing fasciitis, also known as "flesh-eating bacteria" is a rare and serious condition that can cause the tissue under the skin to die. It is caused by bacteria that enter the body through a wound or other means and can quickly spread, leading to severe tissue damage and sometimes even amputation or death. In cases where the person has died from necrotizing fasciitis, embalming may be more difficult or even impossible. In such cases, the funeral home may need to take special precautions to ensure the safety of the embalmers and others who come into contact with the body.
Upon receiving the remains, as with any body, I knew I would need to employ universal precautions and don all my Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). My first step was to assess the body and form a procedural plan. As I unwrapped the body, I used Orifice Guard (1-ORIFG) to disinfect all of the surfaces of the body including the mouth, eyes, ears, hands, and genitals. The main chemical component of Orifice Guard is Isopropyl Alcohol.
Isopropyl alcohol, also known as isopropanol, is a type of alcohol that is commonly used as a disinfectant. It is effective at killing bacteria and other microorganisms. It is also commonly used as a cleaning agent for surfaces and equipment in the preproom. I find Orifice Guard reliable and easy to work with a pleasant smell.
As expected, there was massive tissue destruction from the bacterial infection. Necrotizing Fasciitis releases toxins and enzymes that are known to significantly and rapidly break down tissue. In this case the person had been exposed to the bacteria approximately 24 prior to the time of death. During that 24 hour time period one of the lower extremities had been amputated and massive damage was observable on the right upper extremity. While these were very obvious, I knew they would be masked when the deceased was dressed. My concern was the destruction to the observable tissue, the face and hand were extremely dehydrated.
I was faced with quite the conundrum. I needed to employ a high chemical concentration to ensure public safety, yet I also wanted to create a suitable memory for the family. Embalming chemical selection was a concern. I decided to go with Frigid’s Tissue Guard 32(1-TISSG32). My rationale was this, the aldehyde concentration is , plenty strong for disinfection but with lanolin added to modify the harshness of the chemical on the skin. Lanolin is a fatty substance that is extracted from the wool of sheep. It is commonly used in skin care products because it has emollient properties, meaning it can help to soften and moisturize the skin. When added to a chemical substance, lanolin can help to reduce the harshness of the chemical on the skin by creating a barrier that protects the skin from the damaging effects of the chemical. I also added a bottle of Free Flo (1-FREEFLO) to break up any clots and improve drainage. I topped off my 3 gallon solution with 8 ounces of Leak Guard to seal pores the might leak post embalming.
After arterial injection I performed standard aspiration and injected the cavities with Frigid’s Pharos (1-PHAROS). A powerful mix of Formaldehyde , Phenol and Alcohol. This is a strong cavity fluid I can trust for challenging cases.At the service the family was very pleased that they could see their loved one and that they looked peaceful. The death was unexpected and the time preceding death was very chaotic and left the family with questions about how the condition of this person. I was satisfied that the chemicals I selected provided the family with a sense of closure.