DMU students to honor “silent teachers”

No textbook or model can substitute for the human body in the study of medicine. On May 11, 2018, Des Moines University will honor 54 individuals, 12 of them honored veterans, who generously donated their bodies to further medical education. The family of each donor and community members are invited to celebrate the lives and contributions of this year’s donors.

The memorial service will begin at 1 p.m. at Des Moines University, 3200 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, in the Olsen Center, first floor of the DMU Clinic on the east side of campus. The service will consist of several speakers, memorial tributes from medical students, musical selections and military honors provided for the veteran donors. Light refreshments will be available following the service. Family members attending the service will receive a lapel pin that honors the gift of their loved one.

The DMU Choir performs at the Body Donor Memorial.

“Thanks to the incredibly selfless gift made by these individuals, we are able to uniquely educate and train our DMU students in anatomy, as well as educate students from local schools about how to take care of their bodies,” says Donald Matz, Ph.D., chair of the DMU anatomy department.

Des Moines University relies on the voluntary donation of bodies for anatomical and surgical study by its students. Donated bodies are indispensable in the training of future physicians and health professionals. As of May 1, 2018, 2,865 people have donated the ultimate gift to DMU since detailed recordkeeping began in 1955. When an individual donates his/her remains to the program, the University reimburses a portion of the transportation costs, provides cremation services for the donor’s family and includes a memorialization of each donor studied that year.

Making arrangements prior to someone’s death is uncomfortable to discuss at times, but planning ahead ensures the body donor’s wish will be fulfilled. For more information about DMU’s Body Donor Program, contact Edward Christopherson, anatomical coordinator of the program, at 515-271-1481 or, or visit

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