COMP-Northwest students will hold a Cadaver Farewell Memorial Service to honor 18 donors who contributed immensely to their osteopathic medical education.

The memorial service, which is open to the public, will take place at 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, 2012 on campus in the Samaritan Lecture Hall, 200 Mullins Drive, Lebanon, Ore. 97355. Please RSVP for the ceremony by contacting us at (541) 259-0254 or rsvpmemorial@westernu.edu.

American Legion Post No. 51 Honor Guard will post the colors at the beginning of the ceremony to honor three of the donors who served in the military. The COMP-Northwest Choir, made up of staff and students, will sing a selection of songs.

“We want to provide our donors with a respectful farewell,” said Brion Benninger, MD, MSc, COMP-Northwest vice chair and professor of anatomy. “It’s important to have a ceremony, first and foremost, for the people who have gifted their bodies to better mankind. This ceremony is equally important to students, faculty, and those who have worked with these invaluable donations. These donors have provided the ultimate sacrifice, and we would like to honor them, while providing closure for all of those who have been privileged to benefit from them.”

A donor cadaver patient provides anatomy lessons that textbooks cannot, Benninger said. Textbooks are written with a view of averages – this vessel on average will lie left of this nerve. But “average is a collection of numbers, and there is no such thing as an average individual,” he said.

“During dissection, one truly learns the real anatomy,” Benninger said. “All of us have slight variations to us. Dissection allows for this appreciation, and provides the orientation of the body’s architecture. When one locates the pancreas and actually sees what’s sitting on top of it, it’s a memory that will never fade, which is critical for the training physician.”

For more information about the Willed Body Program, visit http://www.westernu.edu/osteopathy-wbp.