Anatomy Department Holds Memorial Service

In a dynamic and moving ceremony, students in professional health programs at Howard University came together on April 30, 2015, to memorialize men and women who donated their bodies to be used for medical education.

The initial training of all students of medicine, dentistry, nursing, physician assistants, occupational therapy, physical therapy and other allied health disciplines involves learning anatomy from actual bodies. All bodies that are used at Howard University are donated; the generous gifts provide the cornerstone for which the institution’s professional programs in the health sciences are built.

The Anatomy Memorial Service allowed students and faculty members to offer heart-felt testimonials and prayers. Dozens of family members of the deceased individuals participated. The ceremony included flowers, candles, and expressions of appreciation representing the varied cultures and religious backgrounds of the Howard University student community. Students recited poetry, sang song and gave instrumental performances. Others offered personal reflections on the educational significance of the experience.

Abdullah Faiq, the president of the freshman class of the Howard University College of Medicine, said the individuals who donated their bodies said he wanted to show the family members that their loved ones taught students more than what can be found in textbooks.

“Working with a human body is richer and more complex experience,” Faiq said. “You start building a humanist relationship with the body. You develop a sense of care, and you start treating the donated body like your first patient.”

In notes of gratitude after the service, family members expressed their appreciation. One woman wrote that her daughter had been depressed before the service, but her mood was elevated after talking to medical students at the service.

 “We found out that the students who learned from him really cared about him,” the woman wrote of the memorial. “We were fortunate to have your service.”

For more information about the program, please contact Dr. Donald Orlic, the chairman of the Howard University Department of Anatomy, via donald.orlic@howard.edu or 202.865.0058.

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