Gift of Body celebrates donors’ lives, generosity

Gift of Body program celebrated the lives of 65 donors and their families Friday, Aug. 11, 2023.
Attendees for the Gift of Body Commemoration listen intently as Kevin Flaherty, PhD, gives opening remarks. The event celebrated the lives of 65 donors, who gave their bodies to advance scientific research and teach the next generation of physicians.

The Gift of Body program celebrated the lives of 65 donors and their families Friday, Aug. 11. The generous gifts of their bodies – and the tremendous sacrifices of their loved ones – provide critical education and pave the way for future health care professionals.

The program gives MU medical students a valuable opportunity that traditional lectures cannot provide and allows them to learn the dignity and respect owed to the human body, said Kevin Flaherty, PhD, assistant professor of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences. Often, the donor is the student’s first patient.

“That’s one of the most incredible parts of this process. Students don’t get to meet their donor in life, they don’t get to know what their personality was like or what gifts they brought to this world, but they will carry the memory of that donor with them for the rest of their own lives,” Flaherty said. “It’s comforting, in its own way, to know that you can meet someone after they die and still change the course of their life.”

Bailey Patrick and Lauren Henry, both second-year medical students, shared details of the donors’ lives at the ceremony. Some chose to donate their bodies so they could continue to teach others, even in death. Many were devoted to family and had personal passions, including a love for the outdoors, volunteering or other hobbies.

Those in attendance held a moment of silence, and it was followed by a performance of “Make You Feel My Love” by the Mizzou Med Musicians.

We thank this year’s donors and their families for their commitment to advancing medical science education.