Western University of Health Sciences students honored their first teachers and patients at the student-sponsored Cadaver Memorial Service on Oct. 28, 2014.

Students who completed their gross anatomy course organized the memorial service for 52 Willed Body Program donors and their families, with special recognition by the Military Medical Student Association to the 13 donors who served in the military.

“”This individual gave to you the last thing they had in existence before they died,”” said College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific Professor of Anatomy Craig Kuehn, PhD. “”This person you’ve been working on throughout the year is not only your greatest teacher of anatomy, but also your first patient. So today we’re going to give our respects to those individuals who had the foresight and wisdom to donate to you their own bodies so you could learn anatomy.””

Students in the osteopathic medicine, podiatric medicine, dental medicine, and medical sciences programs shared personal thoughts and memories, read poetry and performed music and magic in honor of the donors.

Master of Ceremonies Robert Stowe, DO ’18, said the service provides a moment to reflect upon and remember donor-patients who provided the opportunity to learn.

“”They gave us an opportunity to learn the human body in ways we may never explore again,”” he said. “”This ceremony is but a small representation of our appreciation for their gift. We will continue to honor their gift by treating and healing our future patients with the knowledge we gained. I know I will be a better provider because of them.””

Ryan Bart, DO ’18, said he realized that the donor-patients are not just bodies devoid of life. These people had families, and they had jobs and a purpose.

“”Before they left this world, they made a decision to give their bodies to us. They became our teachers, and we all learned from them,”” he said.

Bart tore up a long strip of paper, representing all that the anatomy students learned – back and spinal cord, heart, digestive system, legs and feet, head and neck. He then put the ripped pieces of paper in his mouth, and pulled a seemingly endless stream of different colored paper out of his mouth.

“”It was really confusing how it all worked together, but what our teachers did was, they gave us the gift to begin to understand the beautiful and intricate complexity of human life, and they helped us begin to put those different conceptual parts together and to see it for real,”” Bart said. “”They made the decision to give the gift of learning to us, but the reason why they did that was not about us. It’s about our future patients.””

Diana Liao, DMD ’18, quoted John F. Kennedy, “”As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.””

“”I know I speak for all the students when I say that our appreciation extends beyond just words, but through our continued efforts to become excellent providers in our community,”” Liao said. “”Although this is simply the beginning of a long journey, we will continue to aspire to be compassionate, gentle, altruistic health care providers. And we can attribute all of our future successes to this wonderful opportunity we have had this past semester. They have given us the everlasting gift of knowledge. Today I present all of you with a charge: A charge to never quit, to never waver, and to never stop giving back through our ability to treat our patients with the upmost respect and care. This is because this is the WesternU way. “”

Mike Reed, DPM ’18, quoted Walt Whitman’s poem, “”O Me! O Life!””

“”…The powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.””

“”In some ways what he’s saying is life is relatively brief, and that humanity’s collective play is sung by the individual verses that we all get to speak in the brief time that we have here on earth,”” Reed said. “”I think the individuals who donated their bodies to us understood this, to some capacity. They’ve sung their verses very loudly, in my opinion, in teaching us. For me and others I talked to, I think their verses will echo on inside of us both now and on into the future.””