Medical students honor donors


Published: Wednesday, December 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 1, 2004 at 12:26 a.m.
In life, they were a medical technologist, a social worker, a waitress, a mother and a truck driver, an attorney, a carpenter and a retired chemist.
At the end of their lives, they all had a single calling. They had become teachers.
On Monday night, the University of Florida College of Medicine's class of 2008 thanked the 20 people who had chosen to donate their bodies to science.
In doing so, they allowed 120 new medical students to take the first steps toward becoming physicians.
Every incoming medical student faces anatomy, one of the oldest disciplines in medicine, in the first semester of their studies. Without an understanding of the structure of the human body, as well as its functional basis, the diagnosis and treatment of diseases are inconceivable.
For 14 weeks, the medical students in groups of six had gathered around the bodies of these donors, learning first-hand the complex systems that make up a human being.
With the semester at an end, they held a commemorative program to honor the donors and their families for the gift of knowledge, and to reflect on their own experiences.
Kavita Rajasekhar spoke of how her father had died of bladder cancer. Now, as a medical student, she was able to see the physical effects of cancer on the body, through her study of anatomy.
"We've experienced some incredible things in the past few months. We've held a heart that once beat so strongly for a loved one. We've traced the course of a nerve or blood vessel from its inception to its destination," Rajasekhar told the audience.
"I am in awe, and feel privileged to be part of what I think exemplifies the circle of life."
Each student lit a candle on the stage of the auditorium of the Health Professions, Nursing and Pharmacy Building, then joined a processional to the anatomy lab.
There each group of students spoke briefly about their donor and what they had learned.
One group applauded the courage of their donor, a 46-year-old waitress who was the youngest of the group and who had chosen to donate her body to science.
Another spoke of their donor, a 92-year-old chemist.
As the year went on, they learned so much from him, they felt that in respect for what he'd taught they, they should call him "professor," the group said.
A white rose commemorated the life of each of the donors. Their teaching role over, their bodies will now be cremated and returned to their families, or if they chose, scattered over the Gulf of Mexico.
But as one student said, "We will forever remember their intimate role in the first year of our medical education."
You can find out more about anatomical donation from the Anatomical Board for the state of Florida,
  • On the Web: http://www.med.ufl.edu/anatbd/
  • By calling toll-free: 1-800-628-2594 Diane Chun can be reached at (352) 374-5041 or chund@gvillesun.com.
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