A tribute to body donors

I have fond memories of my first class in the anatomy laboratory.

It was the Monday of my first week at medical school. I’d spent the last night pouring over my newly purchased anatomy textbooks.

I wondered how I would ever appreciate the countless anatomical details of the human body.

But as I stood around the benches with a body donor, everything changed. Suddenly all the organs, vessels and tissues that I’d read about in the textbooks were put into context in a way that would not have been possible without the generosity of a body donor.

I remember my teacher pointing out the appendix in one donor. It was a small finger-like organ arising from the bowel down in the lower right side of the abdomen

“You can’t always find it,” he told us.

I remembered reading in a textbook that, although the appendix no longer served a function, it was still prone to becoming infected and causing fever, loss of appetite and a nasty abdominal pain.

I returned home with a renewed enthusiasm for learning. The donors had sparked a candle inside me that burned brightly into the night. I poured over the same textbooks but this time with a renewed vigor.