There is a ritual in medical schools to hold a memorial service to honor those who have donated their bodies or body parts to advance medical education and research. In spite of advances in instructional technologies, the dissection of human cadavers remains a staple teaching strategy in gross anatomy in medical schools. There is no doubt, dissecting cadavers teaches more than just muscle insertions and blood vessels. It invites the future physician to contemplate on our collective humanity, to acknowledge the inescapable reality of disease and death, and to ponder upon the virtue of gratitude.
It’s proper and good to eulogize the people who donated their bodies to medical education. To give thanks to those who continue to give, post-mortem, is a moral obligation. Organ donors, both live and cadaver, evoke similar heartfelt thanksgiving. A donated organ can save a life, but a donated body paves the path to save many more. The gift of the dead, both physical and spiritual, will continue to manifest in the lives restored under the care of a learned and skillful physician.
Nurses don’t dissect cadavers to learn their craft. And the dead do not endure. Before the advent of high . . .