Monday, August 28, 2023

The Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) honored 24 donor families at the annual Donor Memorial Ceremony hosted by the Class of 2026 on Friday afternoon inside the Center for Music and Worship Arts on the campus of Liberty University.

The ceremony pays homage to those individuals who have donated their bodies to insure the excellence of medical education and the advancement of medical science at LUCOM. The memorial ceremony also serves to publicly thank the families and friends of donors.

“The decision made by these individuals to donate their bodies to science is one that resonates with the teachings of Christianity—a testament to the love, compassion, and selflessness that Christ exemplified during his time on Earth,” second-year student Sima Michele-Sohi Lilly said in the opening statement.

She was one of eight LUCOM students to participate in the ceremony and the entire 2026 and 2027 classes were also in attendance. Four students performed special music in honor of the donors, while three others gave reflections regarding their donors.

“My first patient decided to share his most intimate moments with my classmates and I, without ever knowing us,” Tiana Elisara-Payne stated. “His heart, which once raced with excitement from a new love or felt like it was beating a million miles an hour standing in front of a crowd to speak. His hands, which he used to work to earn a living. His arms, that he wrapped around and warmly embraced his family,” she continued.

“My donor, who shall rest in peace, decided to share that with us. An intimate view of an entire lifetime of moments. Through our donors’ decisions to give their bodies to science, they have granted us the privilege of delving deep into the intricate tapestry of the human body that God intricately created,” Tiana concluded.

These students weren’t the only ones that spoke at the Donor Memorial Ceremony. The Dean of LUCOM, Joseph R. Johnson, DO, FACOOG (Dist), spoke and Timothy O. Leonard, MD, PhD, also gave a message from the faculty.

Stany Lobo, PhD, the Anatomical Sciences department chair, spoke on the role of the donors in medical education. “Our student doctors are instructed to give due respect, regard the donor’s remains as their first patient from which they will learn the wonders of the Creator’s design,” he said. “Your beloved relative in the form of a donor has enlightened the minds of our students doctors here at LUCOM,” he addressed to the donor families.

The ceremony concluded with various donor families touring the facilities at LUCOM and interacting with various student doctors.

LUCOM will always remember loved ones that have donated their bodies to support learning in medical education.