Annual memorial service for body donors open to public

May 7, 2009 —

(Des Moines, IA) – On Friday, May 15, Des Moines University (DMU) will honor 58 Iowans who donated their bodies to further medical education. The family of each donor, the DMU community and the public is invited to remember and recognize each generous gift.

The non-denominational service will begin at 1 p.m. in the Student Education Center auditorium, 3300 Grand Avenue, and is open to all. The body donor memorial service has been held annually for at least 37 years. Military honors will be performed for the veteran donors.

“Those who donate their bodies continue giving well after their passing. Working with a donor provided me not only a vast amount of medical knowledge but also a greater respect for the human body,” said Jonathan Thompson, DMU podiatric medical student. “I hope this service conveys just how much each donor has given and honors their lives by recognizing their ultimate selfless gift.”

Family members at the service will be given a lapel pin that honors the gift their loved one made. At least 300 people are expected to attend.

The Body Donor Program at Des Moines University has been contributing to medical investigation and student education for as long as the University has. Since detailed record keeping began in 1955, more than 2,100 bodies have been donated to DMU. Studying the body’s systems and organs contributes to a thorough understanding of human anatomy. When a body is donated to the program, the University pays a portion of the transportation costs and provides for the memorial service and entombment.

Making death preparations is not something most people like to talk about but planning ahead insures the option of donating your body to science. For more information about the Body Donor Program at DMU, call 515-271-1481.

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Des Moines University (DMU) is the only private medical school in Iowa, offering graduate-level, professional degree programs in osteopathic medicine, podiatric medicine, physical therapy, physician assistant studies, biomedical sciences, anatomy, health care administration and public health. Founded in 1898, the institution offers superior academics in a collaborative environment. DMU students' pass rate on national examinations and board certifications is consistently higher than the national average and the rates at similar institutions.

Courtney Tompkins has been part of the DMU marketing team since Nov. 2005 and loves promoting a school she believes in so thoroughly. Proud daughter and patient of DMU alumni, Courtney knows, first-hand, that Des Moines University is doing a world of good. A fan of all outdoor festivals, fruity drinks and nearly all edibles, she has a hard time narrowing down her list of favorite places to go and things to do but lists the Iowa State Fair as an all-time fave. She loves her 8-minute commute to DMU from Urbandale, a suburb of Des Moines. She and husband Tyler are owned by three large dogs, Tonka, Tucker and Tank.


  • Amy Curtis

    I attended the memorial service on May 15th. I was moved by the speeches of the students and their genuine appreciation for the gift of my dad’s body donation. My dad felt very strongly about the donation of his body so that others could continue to learn from him. Thank you so much for providing such a great tribute to the donors and also to the families. I appreciated that some students noted the willingness of the family to honor their loved ones wishes. I did it willingly due to my dad’s request, but it has been a different experience not having the traditional funeral etc. If possible, I would love to have copies of the student’s letters and poems that were posted outside the auditorium. It was an emotional day (more so than I thought it would be) and I was not able to stand and read all of the letters etc. I would be happy to pay for postage etc.

    thank you so much, again,
    Amy Curtis
    (Dean A. Burg, donor)