Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Maryland State Anatomy Board holds 40th annual anatomical donations memorial

SYKESVILLE - People filed into the "Big G" building at Springfield Hospital Center Monday to honor friends and family members that donated their bodies to science.

With more people than chairs, people stood against the wall, as Director of the State Anatomy Board Ronn Wade welcomed people to the 40th Anatomical Memorial Service.

The service included an Islamic, Christian and Jewish prayer, as well as speeches by a nurse, doctors and Maryland Sen. Roy Dyson to honor and thank those who made donations.

"We come here to remember those people who were dear to us," the Rev. Edward Richardson, chaplain of Springfield Hospital Center, said in the service.

We remember people through their stories, whether they are happy, silly or tragic, he said.

"Tell the stories so that we can remember," Richardson said.

To honor the donors, Maryland Sen. Roy Dyson presented a senate resolution to name the day "Anatomical Donor Appreciation Day."

The proclamation was signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley, Dyson said.

Some of the speakers discussed how important donors are to the advancement of medicine.

Anatomical knowledge is one of the most important tools for surgeons, said Adam C. Puche, the board interim vice-chairman at the University of Maryland Medical School, during the service.

Dyson, who represents the St. Mary's, Calvert and Charles counties, once visited a surgical cadaver lab, where the senior surgeon explained to him about all the advancements in medicine that were possible because of the donors, he said in the service.

The service also honored parents who made the decision to donate their children's bodies to science.

A parent's love runs deeply and does not stop, Nurse Naomi Cross said.

"You brought yourself here today to remember your precious little one," Cross said during the service.

Musical selections were performed throughout the service, including "Amazing Grace" sung by Medical Degree candidate Ann Marie Decker and a performance by Maryland Bagpiper Francis Wallace.

People who decide to give their bodies to science deserve recognition, Wade said.

When people give a gift like the one donors make they deserve recognition, Wade said.

"It's the right thing to do, given the donations and the gifts they made," he said.

Donors, which can include organ donors or whole-body donors, help teach medical students, dental students, paramedics and emergency medical technicians about anatomy, Wade said.

"The body is the teacher," Wade said.

Seeing different anatomy helps the students learn to handle situations with confidence, as well as to understand that not everyone has the same anatomy, he said.

The State Anatomy Board works with three medical schools, three physical therapy schools and one dental school, as well as many different training programs, Wade said.

While many donations are made to the state of Maryland, they can be sent across the country to help with out of state research or teaching, Wade said.

"The anatomy class in that first year is one of the most important classes [medical students] receive," Brigade Chaplain Chris Martin said during the service.

According to Wade, the State Anatomy Board buried 789 people this year.