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DPT annual program honors human donors

Students studying for their doctor of physical therapy degree paid tribute Tuesday afternoon to the deceased men and women who donated their bodies to science by serving as “teachers” for the graduate program’s Class of 2012.

Weston Wise performed on guitar as he sang a musical reflection on the men and women who donated their bodies to the DPT program.

Over the past several months, DPT students worked on the 11 human donors in a basement laboratory in the McMichael Science Building. As part of their studies, students dissected the bodies to learn the intricacies of human anatomy – and how each body tells the story of the donor’s life.

It was those lives that were commemorated in the July 20 noontime “Service of Thanksgiving and Farewell” in Whitley Auditorium. Graduate students expressed their appreciation to donors, known only by first names such as “Glen,” “Leona,” “Mary L.” and “Milton,” with comments written on index cards and read aloud to the four dozen people in the audience.

Remarks included the following:

“When I first started the anatomy experience I was nervous. Now, looking back, I truly appreciate the gift of greatest importance I’ve received.”

Associate professor Janet Cope shared her own reflections with the DPT Class of 2010 about the role of human donors and their service as "teachers" to the future physical therapists.

“… I am thankful for those that have donated themselves to science. They are wonderful teachers. They selflessly gave themselves and we should learn from their selflessness because we will have to put our patients first. It’s amazing to see firsthand how different and unique everyone is yet we all have the same bones, organs, muscles, etc. This will help me in the clinic – treat the patient, not the disease, because everyone is different.”

“Our donors have provided us with the knowledge that no textbook could offer. It is truly a selfless gift that they have given us and we appreciate it greatly.”

“Our donor taught me so much more than any book or online resource ever could. To be able to actually make tangible what had only been previously been nothing more than words and pictures I feel has been an invaluable teaching tool.”

“I’ve had a hard time thinking of what to put down on paper, because no words seemed to be worthy of the appreciation I have for these people. I can’t imagine the kind of courage it took to make such a powerful decision in their final days. Whatever led them here, I hope we treated them with the respect they deserved and used our time with them to the fullest.”

The ceremony included a song performed on guitar by Weston Wise, remarks by Elon associate chaplain Phil Smith, and a reflection by associate professor Janet Cope. A reception was held afterward in on the patio outside McMichael.


Eric Townsend,
7/21/2010 12:34 PM