Unique memorial service at DMU honors body donors

(Des Moines, IA) – On May 18, Des Moines University will honor 72 Iowans who donated their bodies to further medical education. The family of each donor, the DMU community and the public is invited to remember each donor and recognize each generous gift.
“We are indebted to these individuals that donated their body for education. I would hope all donors and their families realize what a great service they are doing for students of medicine. They provide an invaluable resource for our education and we are very grateful for the learning opportunity,” said Kassia Sandstrom, physician assistant student. “These donors all led meaningful, fulfilling lives and were able to give to their communities after they passed away. They deserve recognition for this important decision.”
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 35 years. At least 300 people are expected to attend. For the first time, this year military honors will be performed for the veteran donors. Family members at the service will be given a lapel pin that honors the gift their loved one made.
Clayton Carlson, anatomical coordinator, arranged this year’s service. He says, “It shows our donor families that we care about them and it gives students an opportunity to recognize the donors who contributed to their education. This is the only service some donor families have.”
Sandstrom, osteopathic medicine student Matthew McClanahan, Nicole Mason, a podiatric medical student and physical therapy student Laurel Nystul will speak during the program.
Other speakers at the service will include Kendall Reed, D.O., dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, Robert Yoho, D.P.M., dean of the College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery, Jodi Cahalan, PA-C, dean of the College of Health Sciences, Donald Matz, Ph.D., chair of the anatomy department, and Reverend Beau Collins of Des Moines’ Evergreen Church of Christ. A video tribute to the donors will be shown as well.
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 2,000 bodies have been donated to DMU. Studying the body’s systems and organs contributes to a thorough understanding of human anatomy.
Mason said, “We learn best when we can actually see and touch that which we need to understand. The donors provided an invaluable opportunity – the scientific knowledge we gain working with actual bodies is indispensable.”
When a body is donated to the program, the University pays a portion of the transportation costs within Iowa and provides for the memorial service and entombment. The annual memorial service has been held for more than 35 years. Of the 72 being honored this year, 15 will be entombed at the Merle Hay Mausoleum.
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.
Free parking is available behind the building and directions to campus are available at https://www.dmu.edu.

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