“To my first patient who I will never meet in life, Thank you.”
This line from second-year Marian University College of Ostepathic Medicine (MU-COM) student Olivia Smith’s poem, “My First Patient,” was submitted as a part of MU-COM’s Donor Memorial Service on Saturday, May 16.
Medical students gathered with the families of individuals who donated their bodies to MU-COM. With more than 150 people in attendance, the donors were honored with musical performances, heartfelt words and prayers, and a slideshow of photos of the donors submitted by their loved ones. During the ceremony, students also presented a rose as each donor’s name was read aloud.
“We hope that this memorial service is meaningful to both the loved ones of our donors, as well as our students, staff, and faculty who work with both donors and donors’ families. This is a moment to express our profound appreciation and respect for the selflessness of the donors and their families,” said Tafline Arbor, Ph.D., assistant professor of anatomy in MU-COM. “Hopefully, this event will help to provide a sense of closure for all of the attendees.”
Organized largely by student volunteers, the ceremony featured reflections from spiritual leaders of different faiths, including: John Shelton, campus minister of spiritual formation at Marian University; Eric Williams, hospital chaplain and seminarian of All Souls Unitarian Church; and Imam Shaker Rashid of the Alhuda Foundation.
Many students submitted letters and poetry to express their gratitude and reverence for the donors.
First-year medical student Sarah Hockley wrote, “We did not have the privilege of knowing your loved ones in life, but we were still blessed by their generosity, selflessness, and dedication to our education. Every pain we comfort, every illness we cure, and every life we might save will be thanks, in part, to them. They will be helping to change lives for the better for decades to come. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of their stories.”
Dr. Arbor explained the significance of the donations, “Bodies donated to medical science are crucial because they promote education, advance medical science, improve medical techniques, and directly improve the knowledge and performance of future health care practitioners,” she said. “This gift improves the lives of countless other individuals for generations to come.”
If you are interested in bequeathing your body to medical science in the state of Indiana, you may do so through the Indiana Anatomical Education Program housed at Indiana University School of Medicine. You can learn more about the process and requirements on the website.