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Donating a Body Lets the Tree of Physicians Thrive: My Donor Memorial Service Speech

Editor’s note: This article was originally published here by contributing writer Samantha Margulies.

We take exams. We take patient histories. We may or may not go to class. We study… a lot.

Before all of this, however, we were newly inducted first-year medical students, and Dr. Slaby introduced our class to our very first patients. They would become our best study buddies. While he spoke to us and explained how class would work, I thought about their families—you.

Wow, I thought.

How heroic.

How generous during a time of mourning could a family support a donor’s decision to help medical students.I thank our donors, and I thank you. You have helped create the next generation of physicians, us.

I took this opportunity to treat my first patient as if she were my lost loved one. I wanted to hear her story as if she were really my patient. I wanted her to see me learning with my friends. I wanted to thank her. I wanted to tell her how proud I was for the choice she made to help me learn.

While the decision to donate may have been difficult and perhaps at times unsettling, I really and truly appreciate your kindness.

They donated themselves to be our first patients with whom to make memories. Our first patients from whom to learn.

And I would like to continue this spirit of generosity. Perhaps similar to some of you in front of me, I have had my anxieties about donating my body to medical education. Attending lab would have been my make-it-or-break-it moment for donating my own body.

During class, I would walk through the sea of green and blue scrubs while I visited different lab groups and donors. I would listen to my fellow classmates excitedly explain something they just learned from their donor. I would watch their eyes light up talking about a medical condition as if they were already doctors diagnosing patients.

Then, I would go to another group of students, and of course they would show me something amazing about their donor.

Feeling every student’s passion while they spoke with me about what their respective donors taught them, I realized that my decision to give my own body had been made.

After having the privilege to be a part of the donor program at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, I now know I really do want to donate my body to science if my organs are not viable for donation. Let us allow the tree of life and budding physicians grow.

I hope that future physicians learn from my own body and remember their anatomy and clinical applications just how I do now. And I hope I can inspire others to become donors, just as my donor did for me.

May the souls of your respective family members be in peace. On behalf of the Class of 2016, thank you.

Samantha Margulies Samantha Margulies (3 Posts)

Medical Student Editor

George Washington University School of Medicine

Samantha graduated summa cum laude from St. Bonaventure University in December 2011 with a BS in biology and a minor in journalism and mass communication. She currently attends The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences as an MD candidate in the Class of 2016. She has a blog entitled Cream Cheese & Stethoscopes.

  • I’m totally with you on this. A big handful of students in my class remarked that they probably wouldn’t be donating their bodies after seeing what happens to them through the a term. I thought this completely missed the point and was just a knee-jerk reaction, not to mention standing on the shoulders of giants and refusing to give a hand up to the next generation. So now the only question is what kind of tattoos shall we get before we die to entertain, lead, or perhaps mislead our future dissectors? (An anatomically correct dextrocardia comes to mind…)