Donating your body to science following death is a selfless gift that furthers medical science and helps future doctors learn important anatomy skills. How Saint Louis area university programs honor body donors differs from institution to institution.
Here in the Saint Louis area, three local universities participate in body donation programs that advance knowledge for their students. Each of these programs honors body donors in ceremonies that offer gratitude to the deceased and comfort to friends and family.
Washington University School of Medicine
In the June 2022 ceremony to honor body donors, over 200 medical students from the Classes of 2023 and 2024 met to celebrate the gift of 400 donors. Along with students and faculty, loved ones of the deceased visited the Eric P. Newman Education Center on the Central West End medical campus for the annual Donor Remembrance Ceremony. During the ceremony, students carried to the stage vases filled with 400 flowers, each representing a donor. The colors of the flowers were symbolic. Red flowers represented continued love. Yellow and pink blooms represented joy, while blue flowers reflected gratitude and white blooms depicted remembrance.
The event included personal reflections, poetry, and musical performances that preceded a reverent reading of donor names and the lighting of battery-operated candles. The ceremony was livestreamed to include those unable to attend in person. This 2022 ceremony was the first that Washington University was able to hold since the COVID-19 pandemic. It made this opportunity even more important because students, faculty and loved ones were able to grieve in person and together.
Saint Louis University School of Medicine
First year medical students at Saint Louis University honored those who donated their bodies for medical education with an interfaith memorial service in November 2022 at
St. Francis Xavier College Church on the midtown Saint Louis Campus. These first year students plan every aspect of the service from choosing and performing the music to creating the program artwork and picking the flowers used in the flower procession. These first-year medical students, graduate students and Allied Health students also serve during the memorial ushers and greeters.
The interfaith program honors all the faith traditions represented in the medical school class. The November 2022 service included prayers from the Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints traditions.
Logan University of Chiropractic Medicine
Members of every class at Logan University gather each May to honor body donors. The outdoor ceremony includes a moment of silence to reflect on loss, followed by music and readings to appropriately express gratitude. Logan University students learn and understand the complexities of the human body in a far better manner than books or computer programs can ever provide, thanks to body donor program participants.
Your gift of anatomical donation will impact everyone. You will not realize what your gift can possibly mean to the world going forward, but those you leave behind can find comfort in the knowledge that your gift will advance medical knowledge in ways not possible otherwise. If you have a question about the donation process or want to know more about available programs, you can contact St. Louis Body Donations at 314-252-0462.