School of Medicine honors body donors

By By Anne Roper

By Anne Roper

U medical students, family members and friends gathered Friday to honor 104 individuals who donated their bodies last year to the U’s School of Medicine.

The cadavers provide medical students the opportunity to learn about the intricacies of the human body through hands-on experience.

“No textbook or model can replace the experience of directly working with a corpse,” said Peter Jackson, a first-year medical student. “We really respected these people who continued teaching even after they were gone.”

An open mike was extended during the service to anyone who wished to comment. Medical students mentioned their gratitude for the donated bodies, and the families of the donors described their loved ones’ desires to facilitate advances in medicine.

Chrissy Van Leeuwen remembers her father as one who always took the opportunity to learn and to teach in return. Her father, William Rush, received a heart transplant when he was 47 years old and lived for 20 more years. Because of the second chance he was given by advances in medicine, Rush made the decision to donate his body to research.

“He was given so much,” Van Leeuwen said. “This was his way of giving back.”

David Morton, course director of the School of Medicine’s anatomy program, said the donors displayed the most selfless, altruistic way of giving back.

“You’ll never see their name on the side of a building, but their donation is fundamental in the advancement of medicine on a national level,” he said.

Kerry Peterson, director of the Body Donor Program, has seen the program grow from 20 bodies in 1984 to as many as 120 bodies two years ago. However, he said there will always be a need.

“Nothing is better than experience with an actual body,” he said. “That’s why we are always in need of donors.”

The service has been held annually since 1998 on the Friday before Memorial Day to honor the men and women who gave their bodies to research. The memorial service took place at the Body Donor Program grave site in the northwest corner of the Salt Lake City Cemetery.[email protected]

Lucas Isley

Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, District 2, honor the deceased who donated their bodies to the School of Medicine with a gun salute fallowed by the playing of taps.