May a Kohen become a surgeon?
A dead body causes the room in which he lies to become ritually impure (Numbers 19:14). Additionally, Kohanim are forbidden to become ritually impure from those who are not immediate relatives (Leviticus 21:1).
May a Kohen become a surgeon (i.e. may he choose to go into the field initially), considering the potential for loss of life during the procedure? Does it depend on the type of surgery (ex. local vs. general anesthesia)?
Obviously if the Kohen is already a trained surgeon and is being called upon to save a life, there is no question that he should do whatever necessary to extend his patient’s life. But may he choose initially to pursue a career which may place him in contact with dead bodies, in order to possibly save someone’s life, both doubts concerning events which may or may not occur for several years, if not decades, in the future?
For the purposes of this question, I am only wondering about issues which may arise during the surgery itself after the Kohen has received his MD, ignoring any concerns regarding medical school (ex. working with cadavers).