Burial ceremony honors body donors

UT Health San Antonio’s annual ceremony to inter the cremated remains of human donors used in the education of students, held May 3, attracted a large crowd of family members of the donors, students, faculty and staff to Memorial Park on the Greehey campus.

Omid Rahimi, Ph.D., director of the Human Anatomy Program, welcomed the attendees and expressed gratitude to the families of donors. “This ceremony is dedicated to those who, even in death, continued to serve the living,” he said.

As the distinctive sounds of bagpipes playing Amazing Grace wafted over the grounds on a brilliant spring day, a lone AirLife helicopter flew overhead, offering a final salute to those who in death served the living.

Students representing all the classes that studied anatomy in the past year gave short speeches about the anatomy lessons and life lessons they have learned from their first patients, the deceased human donors who altruistically gave their bodies to science.

Chris Nguyen spoke on behalf of the biomedical engineering students in the gross anatomy course.

“Because of the generosity of the people who donated themselves for our academic enrichment, we now have the benefit of knowing how to design our technology,” he said. “Our prosthetics will come from our donors limbs. Our stents, from their vessels. Our pacemakers, from their hearts. Our lenses, from their eyes. And our grafts, from their tissues”

An honor guard from Fort Sam Houston presented a U.S. flag in memory of body donors who served in the military. Buglers played Taps before attendees silently filed past the cremated remains, placing flowers and handsfull of dirt on the grave.

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