The PCOM Georgia Body Donor Program held its annual memorial service on May 11, 2019 to honor the individuals who donated their bodies to science.
Forty-three candles were lit this weekend at PCOM Georgia in Suwanee in honor of the individuals who unselfishly donated their bodies to science.
The 2019 Donor Memorial Service, a lovely and dignified tradition held annually on Mother’s Day weekend, included a breakfast, words of gratitude from students and faculty members, a prepared video and the gifting of yellow roses and framed poems. The cremains of the donors were presented to family members as a candle was lit in their honor and music played softly.
“Candles represent enlightenment, encouragement, spiritual clarity and reassurance. These candles symbolize the memory of your loved ones and the lives that they so graciously shared with us,” Doctor of Osteopathic (DO) Medicine Council President Phi Tran said.
“Although we present you with their physical cremains, let these flames be a lingering reminder of their impact that continues on within each one of us.”
Chief Campus Officer Bryan Ginn said, “We honor your loved ones for their singular contributions to the body of knowledge our students have gained. These students will one day impact the world with their intellect, their compassion and their helpful hearts and hands.”
Christian Pruitt (DO ’22), chair of the DO class of 2022, spoke to the more than 150 family members who attended the service.
He said, “Our gratitude must be represented by a career spent in the service of others, by days, months and years spent walking alongside our patients through their most difficult and vulnerable moments. Then, maybe we will come close to doing justice to your loved one’s gift.”
Assistant Professor of Anatomy Michael Selby, PhD, spoke on behalf of faculty members at the college. He said, “There is a Chinese proverb that states - I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
He continued, “From an anatomy textbook, you can learn the names of muscles, memorize the locations of arteries, make a list of nerves. But you don’t get a sense of how they fit together without seeing them for yourself.”
“You then realize that the human body is amazingly intricate.”
Planned by medical, physician assistant and physical therapy students, the service also provided a time for family members to eulogize their loved ones.
Joseph Dennis of Atlanta, the son of donor Carolyn Geter of Macon, said, “This weekend is emotional for me. It gives me solace that my mother is leaving a lasting legacy. This was what she wanted. I’m grieving for her, honoring her and extremely proud of her that she could leave such a gift.”
Pruitt said, “Our donors showed us that being human is more than being a sum of all the anatomical parts; there is a real and tangible spiritual component that gives us life. Your loved ones were our first patients, but we never could ask them, “What brings you in today?” What makes your pain worse?”, or even “What’s your favorite color?”
“Seeing all of you here today lets us know that they were well loved and that their story is so much greater than I could have ever imagined in our brief time together.”
Noting that it’s important to combine an empathetic touch with modern medicine, Tran said, “This service is a good way to remind everyone that there’s a human component to everything we’ve learned.”
Director of Anatomical Donor Services Jeffrey Seiple concluded, “Our donors continue to touch the lives of the next generation of physicians, PA’s, PT’s and pharmacists in a unique and powerful way. What a wonderful and timeless gift!”
Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit, accredited institute of higher education dedicated to the healthcare professions. The Suwanee, Georgia, campus is affiliated with Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine which has a storied history as a premier osteopathic medical school. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences and physician assistant studies. Emphasizing "a whole person approach to care," PCOM Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service to the wider community. The campus is also home to the Georgia Osteopathic Care Center, an osteopathic manipulative medicine clinic, which is open to the public by appointment. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 678-225-7500.
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