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There are 17 comments on Gifts from the Dead

  1. Really beautiful piece of writing, and very thoughtful.
    (I did find the first sentence a little rough – but maybe that was the intent).
    Thanks for providing us with a meaningful “visit” into this lab.

  2. Thanks for writing such a thoughtful story about whole-body donation. With the endless versions of CSI-type shows where bodies are treated as either casual props or objects of intrusive, on-camera investigation, it’s good to see a some real reality about how bodies are treated by those who work with them. I also appreciated your willingness to admit your own discomforts: sharing your own evolution from squick to insight was an engaging way to tell the story.

    Your story left me with one question. Does signing up as an organ donor preclude signing up as a whole body donor?

    Thanks again for a good story told well.

  3. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your article on whole body donation. I’m a faculty member in the Anatomy & Neurobiology department, although I have never taught Gross Anatomy. You did a wonderful job of capturing the seriousness and appreciation on the part of our staff and students toward body donation. Your own thoughts and qualms were expressed very articulately, and added much to the article. It really was extremely well-written and interesting. Thank you!

  4. Thanks for your note. Here’s Rob Bouchie’s response to your question:

    “A person can be ‘registered’ to be both an organ donor and a whole body donor. At the time of death, if a waiting life can be saved, I will always suggest to the family to pursue organ donation. Only if the harvesting of the organ donor is minimally invasive can they qualify as both, (i.e. skin, retina, etc.). The procedure involving harvesting a major organ would disrupt the circulatory system in such a way that the perfusion would not be absolute and would not qualify.”

    — CD

  5. To answer the question about whether being an organ donor precludes you from being a whole body donor, no, it does not. In fact, while there are many conditions that would prevent your organs from being useful for donation to a live recipient (e.g., cancer or advanced age), these conditions would not preclude your body from being suitable for use as a donor to our program. So the best way to ensure that your body is used after death is to sign up for both. Organ donation to a live patient gets first priority because it saves someone’s life, but if that is not possible then your body can be used in our program, or one like ours.

    Here is the link for more information about our program: http://www.bu.edu/dbin/anatneuro/anatomical_gifts.php Mr. Bouchie is always happy to answer questions – just call!

  6. Thank you for an outstanding story. Medical gross anatomy is a unique university course. A large number of students find it delightful and fascinating, yet many people have a macabre view of it. Your story elucidates this dichotomous perception and while it comes on a bit strong the themes of respect for the bodies, sacrifice of the donors and appreciation for these absolutely crucial teachers of anatomy is wonderful. The last paragraph is beautifully written and very powerful! -Todd Hoagland, Medical Gross Anatomy course director

  7. Caleb, thanks for your article in BU Today. Ann Zumwalt, PhD, is a special educator and the Gross Anatomy course, expertly run by Todd Hoagland, PhD, is a very special initiation into the world of medicine. The teachers, like Ann, and the class get high reviews. Ann is working hard to bring anatomy back to clinical training, as your article points out. In programs like this, anatomy’s relevance is re-inforced over and over again.

    Next year, I hope you will come to the Memorial Service for the donors. It is run by the students and the families of the donors attend. It is filled with music, poetry and even laughter. It is a very respectful send-off of the med students’ first patients–though they are not alive. The families are very grateful. And Rob Bouchie is the glue that has brought everyone to this place. I was extremely moved by the whole program.

  8. Well done story. The final two sentences show the importance of this activity.

    When I was 36, 13 years ago, I asked that my remains be donated in some form – whether through organ donation or for study. This article reinforces how I can accomplish my intentions, and to have a direct conversation with my executor on the topic.

    As someone who has benefited from the advances in medicine, I am always appreciative of those who went before me. Their treatment – in whatever form – lead to my recovery. I hope to continue the gift.

  9. Thank you so much for this wonderful article. Well written. I am 52 years old now and will seriously be giving whole body donation some thought. It is important for learning.

  10. Donors are beautiful. My college career and anatomy course were cut short decades ago, however the lasting impression from my experience with a donated pair of whole bodies was that human muscle systems are incredibly beautiful.
    – – as for the specific vanity questions – –
    The middle aged man with a pouch became a work of art when the layers of skin and fat over the belly were removed to reveal orderly, striated six-pack abs. I guarantee you there was more admiration of his stomach than he ever received in Life. Shrinkage? No, in fact the opposite. I can’t help you with the toes :)

  11. The dead is great.She sacrificed herself in order that the doctors can learn something unusual.This will be helpful to the recovery of more and more patients in the future.
    Give our prayers to the old woman.

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