LUCOM Class of 2021 hosts annual Donor Memorial Ceremony

Asa Keimig | LUCOM Marketing | Aug 22, 2018

Liberty University College of Osteopathic MedicineLiberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) Class of 2021 hosted the annual Donor Memorial Ceremony on Friday, Aug. 17, to honor their first patients.

The ceremony was one of reflection as student-doctors spent time paying their respects to their patients and recalling how the anatomical dissection during their first-year of medical school had helped furthered their medical education.

“We would like to welcome and express our gratitude for the attendance of the families of those who we are commemorating today,” said Scott Schmidt, president of LUCOM-CGA 2021. “Their generosity will greatly enhance the training of tomorrow’s physicians.”

Jason E. Wells, PhD, assistant dean of Academics, delivered the main message. “As we come together this afternoon to celebrate life, there are three ways the donors remind us to do that,” he said. “The first way is to celebrate the tremendous positive impact that the donors have made. The second way is to remember what we learn from those that contribute to our lives. The third way is that these donors prompt us to be fully aware that our earthly lives will indeed come to an end.”

Liberty University College of Osteopathic MedicineThe cadaveric role is a significant piece in medical education and at LUCOM, one that receives the upmost attention to detail. “LUCOM is a Christian medical school with a biblical world view which governs the decisions we make on how we teach, how we test, how we encourage students and even how we work with our cadavers,” said R. James Swanson, PhD, chair and professor, Department of Anatomical Sciences. “We stress the unity of mind, body and spirit. Thus, even though our donor’s eternal souls have departed the physical body that housed them, we feel that the way we handle these deserted houses, the way we study them, the way we dissect them, and even the way we talk about them requires extreme care and respect.”

Following the faculty, LUCOM student-doctors also shared their personal thoughts on what they learned during their first-year, what anatomical dissection meant to them, and how they will apply their instruction to furthering their medical education.

Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine“As I began my medical school journey, I was exhilarated, nervous and timid as to what the future held, but I remembered one thing I was most excited about; the anatomy lab,” said Jessica Swavely, Class of 2021. “I was beyond excited to begin dissection…there is something amazing and extremely special about being able to study your very first patient in the anatomy lab in order to gain your foundation for medicine.”  

For Swavely, she was humbled by the opportunity to dissect her patient’s brain. The brain, as the most complex organ of the body, holds a person’s personality, their memories, likes and dislikes, favorite food and many other qualities that made that person a father, brother, and grandfather. “My patient and his family gave that blessing to my team so we may be humbled in treating future patients’ and that is something one must remember when undertaking the study of anatomy,” she said.

In electing to donate one’s body to science, LUCOM student-doctors receive one of the greatest, most personal and intimate gifts anyone could ever receive. They are able to utilize the gifts of selfless individuals to further explore God’s creation, and readily equip themselves to be the most successful physicians for their future patients.

Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine“Although we never had the opportunity to know your loved ones before their passing, their gift has allowed all of us to get to know them in a special and unique way.,” said Charles Anderson, Class of 2021. “You’ve heard your loved ones be referred to as our first patients and greatest teachers, and this is absolutely true. Over the course of this past year, each student has spent countless hours in class and on our own time learning of the beauty and complexity of human life, as demonstrated by your loved ones.”

At the end of the Donor Memorial Ceremony, family members of those who had donated their bodies were greeted warmly by student-doctors and faculty members, and welcomed back to the Center for Medical and Health Sciences (CMHS) to tour the facilities.