press_release_image1Students from the UCF College of Medicine’s charter class held a “Send-Off Ceremony” Friday to thank and honor the people who donated their bodies in the name of science and education. Students presented a single orchid for each donor and unveiled a rendering of a commemorative stone that will be placed at the new UCF Health Sciences Campus at Lake Nona.

Student Mitch Popovetsky, who helped organize the ceremony, said the class wanted to thank and honor the eight people who not only taught them about human anatomy but also about life and death. Popovetsky presented a model of the stone, which will read, “You gave us your body, you taught us your marvels, you led us to wisdom, for this we thank you. Class of 2013.”

The students hope to make the “Send-Off Ceremony” a yearly event. “It’s hard to imagine a more generous act than to give one’s body to students you will never meet,” M.D. student Lynn McGrath said as he honored his team’s donor during the ceremony. The event began with a violin solo by student William Kang and ended with a moment of silence.

One by one, the eight groups who made up the first-year human anatomy course shared their memories of the donors and then placed a flower in a vase to form a bouquet. They talked of how the donors had taught them about the complexities of the human body, their own mortality and the importance of giving back to others. Student Rose Dupont said the greatest gift of the anatomy lab was that “I grew as a person. I asked myself, ‘If I didn’t wake up this morning, would I be proud of the way I lived my life?'”

Several faculty members also made presentations, thanking the donors for teaching the students much more than they could have learned from just books, slides and two-dimensional views of the human body. Dr. Mohammed Khalil said the donors helped students learn the motor skills they will need later on in surgery and a respect for life and death that they will carry on with them throughout their medical careers. “Thank you,” he said, “for helping us be better teachers.”