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In years past, the anatomy course was offered in a one-month block. But, with the transition to the new TEC curriculum, anatomy is a component of the entire classroom phase of the students’ education, meaning they worked with their cadavers for nearly 18 months.

“Anatomy lab is really the quintessential medical school experience, and cadavers are obviously a main focal point of that,” said Trent Wei, MS-2 co-president and one of the event’s organizers. “Thanks to these donors, we are able to translate everything we are reading about and studying and actually apply it to the human body.”

Wei said the ceremony was meant to show the class’s great appreciation to the donors and their families.

For many of the students, the most emotional portion of the day was a photo slideshow.

“One of my classmates told me that when her cadaver’s photo flashed across the screen it was like a kick in the chest,” Wei said. “For all of us, this was an incredible reminder that the cadavers we have been learning from were real people who lived full lives and had many people who loved them.”

Wei said he and MS-2 co-president Karli Gast began contacting the donor families a few months ago to invite them to attend the ceremony. He called the opportunity to meet the families in person “surreal.”

“Their contribution to our medical education is incredible,” Wei said. “These bodies are an invaluable learning tool, and this was a wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to these families.”