Burial of ashes honors willed body donors

Burial of Ashes, military honor guard
Burial of Ashes, military honor guard

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.

The Health Science Center’s annual ceremony to inter the cremated remains of human donors used in the education of students, held April 27, 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.

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.

Brad Day and his wife, Lanell, came to pay their final respects to his mother, Margaret Day, one of the body donors.

Day, 55, said he remembers as a small boy hearing his mother talk about donating her body to science as a way to help students learn and then heal others.

“I feel honored by what the Health Science Center is doing,” he added. “It feels like a tribute to my mom for what she gave.”

Graduate vocal students from UTSA performed, and 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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