13, 2015) Aurora, Colo. - Long after their final anatomy class, students at the
Anschutz Medical Campus will remember the generosity and courage of the men and
women who donated their remains to train future health workers.
“Their lives and legacies will live on though
each and every single one of us as a result of the nine weeks we intimately
spent with them,” said Aleksandar Blubaum, School of Medicine class of 2018. “Your
loved ones continue to live on with us in our hearts and minds, having had the invaluable
impact of being our first patients.”
and students from the CU physician assistant, physical therapy and human
anatomy programs, the CU schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine and the
University of Washington School of Medicine program
at the University of Wyoming gathered Monday for the annual Donor Memorial
Ceremony on campus to thank family and friends of the anonymous donors.
Before the ceremony, students handed out
white boxes tied with purple ribbons containing glass paperweights engraved
with a Japanese proverb, “Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one
day with a great teacher.”
Students said videos, books, white boards and
lectures could not replace the lessons learned in anatomy class.
“We were able to have tangible and invaluable
educational experiences that made the anatomy textbooks all the more real and
impactful,” Samuel Colgate, Physician Assistant Program class of 2017, told the
audience of more than 250. “We felt profound connections to them and always
wondered about their stories. Our experience in the lab will stay with us not
only the rest of our careers but for the rest of our lives.”
Grace Diehl, School of Dental Medicine class
of 2018, said students were always mindful of the donors’ humanity.
“The health anatomy class provides us the
opportunity to not only learn the name, functions and locations of thousands of
individual structures within the human body, but learn how these thousands of
structures make one individual....Each and every person made a difference in
our lives and these ‘silent’ teachers taught us a tremendous amount, more than
ever textbook ever could.”
Justin Romano, a University of Wyoming class
of 2018 student who wrote and sang a song dedicated to the cadaver he worked
on, whom he called June, reminded the audience of the far reach of the gifts.
"When you think of their sacrifice, I hope
you think not only of a course of anatomy. I hope you think of surgeons
removing cancer, radiologists locating congenital heart defects, ophthalmologists restoring sight.”
After the students spoke, audience members
filled in some details on the lives of donors. Among those remembered was a breeder
of schipperkes, a hard-living traveling salesman turned health enthusiast, a
CPR and EMT volunteer trainer who helped found an ambulance service in rural
Colorado, and an elementary school teacher who received a new heart from a
10-year-old boy 16 years before she died.
Two of the donors had signed the donation
form with the State Anatomical Board in the mid-1960s, and their families were
amazed that they were still on file. Another originally wanted to be an organ
donor, but she had so many health issues she didn’t qualify.
One man, a poet
and business owner who once played trumpet for the queen of England in World
War II, endured five types of cancer, an angioplasty and, at the age of 91, a
“He was hoping that you weren’t hoping to see
normal human anatomy,” his daughter told the students. “Science was always one
step ahead of him, and he was so grateful for that.”