Today I attended the Donor Memorial Service held by the second year class. Its purpose is to honor those that have given their bodies for our study. With few schools keeping true anatomy course with cadaver dissection, to belong to one that does is really quite fortunate. I don’t think I quite understood the magnitude of the gift given by these individuals at this time last year, but by the end of my first of study it was evident how much I had learned because of this resource available to me. This year I felt that there was definitely a need for me to be among my peers and with them say thank you to the families in attendance.
My role, since I can neither play piano nor sing in a choir (or alone for that matter), was that of a simple usher. Meet and greet the families as they come in, get them to sign the guestbook, and make sure they have a place to sit. Students were forced to sit (or stand) in the back row in order to give room for the families that had come out for the service. Quite a number of families had traveled to be at the service today, and had planned their weekend around being in attendance.
My peers continually impress me. The choir had two weeks to learn their songs, and the speakers not much longer to practice their parts. Even though this was the case, it sounded as though they had had much more time together and their performance came off as polished. I could see how it touched the families involved and I am thankful that there is such resounding talent in the group of students involved that they were able to do such a good job in such a short period of time. After the service was over, a small reception was held which allowed the students and families to mix.
At the reception I introduced myself to one young woman who was present. She was standing off to one side after the ceremony, not talking to anyone, and looking quite sad. I thanked her for coming out and asked what she though of the service. She began by thanking me for being involved and then explained that it was her Dad’s wishes to donate his body. He had, in life, suffered terrible spinal injuries and felt as though his body was useless. In some way by donating his body he felt as though he could be useful again. The short service, the small bit of gratitude by the students, had moved her greatly and it showed. I invited over one of the anatomy professors, a man that I have the utmost respect for, to talk to this young woman for a few moments. “It is the least we can do”, he said to her “It is our duty, our obligation, it is a small way to show what a wonderful gift your father has given – Thank-you.”