Body Donors Pick Their Poses for Plastination Exhibit

Geraldine Pavlick requests her body be plastinated diving for a volleyball.

ByABC News
February 26, 2008, 9:17 AM

Feb. 26, 2008— -- Geraldine Pavlick is excited to have her naked body skinned, filleted and posed diving for a volleyball before millions of viewers at Gunther von Hagens' Body Worlds exhibit of real human bodies after she dies.

"When I went to the exhibit and saw the bodies kicking a soccer ball and throwing a baseball I just thought, volleyball, that's me," said Pavlick.

She is one of the roughly 8,000 living people on von Hagens' donor list to have her body preserved through a process called "plastination," in which the tissue and bone from her corpse will be infused with silicone and essentially turned into plastic.

Von Hagens invented the process of plastination in the 1970s and has since processed hundreds of donated bodies and positioned them in a variety of poses playing sports, musical instruments, chess and poker for the exhibits that have visited dozens of cities around the world.

Pavlick, 52, has worked in the medical field for most of her professional life and said if she is put on display, she "will finally get to travel."

Her 27-year-old daughter, Ellen Pavlick, a nurse, said her mother's desire to be displayed in the exhibit is very much in character.

"She always wants to give back to the community and be involved," said Ellen. "Sure it would be very emotional to see her plastinated at first, but overall it's a good thing; it's what she wants."

In addition to requesting the volleyball pose, Pavlick would like a private viewing of her plastinated remains for her friends and family before her body is put on display.

Von Hagens said he tries his best to accommodate the requests of the donors but informs them that he cannot promise exactly what will be done with their plastinated remains in the future.

The donor must sign a form indicating that he or she understands that the family will have to pay for the body to be transported to the nearest embalmer who operates under von Hagens' direction and that no unused portions of the body will be returned to the family.