May 19 memorial to honor DMU body donors

The DMU Choir performs at the Body Donor Memorial.

On May 19, 2017, Des Moines University will honor some of the best teachers a medical student could have: 58 individuals, 17 of them honored veterans, who this year generously donated their bodies to further medical education. The family of each donor and the community are invited to celebrate the lives and contributions of these donors.

The memorial service will begin at 1 p.m. in the Olsen Center at Des Moines University, 3200 Grand Avenue, Des Moines. The annual event features memorial tributes from medical students, musical selections, military honors provided for veteran donors and light refreshments following the service. Family members who attend receive a lapel pin that honors their loved one.

Dr. Donald Matz and Edward Christopherson

“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,” said Donald Matz, Ph.D., chair of the DMU anatomy department.

The University relies on the voluntary donation of bodies for anatomical and surgical study by its students. Donated bodies are indispensable in training future physicians and health professionals. As of March 1, 2017, 2,807 people have donated the ultimate gift to DMU since detailed recordkeeping began in 1955. When an individual donates his or her remains, 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 bodydonor@dmu.edu, or visit the program’s website.

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