Ceremony held for Texas science-donated cadavers

SAN ANTONIO, TX This is the 15th year the University of Texas Health Science Center's Willed Body Program has held a ceremony to inter the cremated remains of the year's donors.

The remains will be commemorated with a dated marker, joining those from years past, in a small grove at the edge of the center's Greehey Campus.

Donated cadavers, about 100 this year, are dissected and studied by students during their first-year basic anatomy course.

"For these students, these are their very first patients," said Omid Rahimi, director of the center's Willed Body Program. "The ceremony puts a cap on their experience; on the privilege of learning from the cadaver."

First-year medical students Jessica Zavadil, Ponpon Yeh and Amy Yu came to pay their respects Tuesday to the person whose body they studied for 10 hours a week over eight months.

"We only knew his age and cause of death, but I think we came to know him more intimately than we've known anyone," Yeh said.

Several family members of donors past and present attended the ceremony. Tina Garcia was there to honor her mother, Carolyn D'Orsogna, who died in 2006. Twice a year she places flowers at each marker. Nearby, her father, Albert, and his second wife, Laurel, waited for the ceremony to begin.

"I don't know why we linger here," she said. "I guess it's because we don't have any other place to mourn her. Afterward we go and have dinner and celebrate her memory -- and my dad's birthday." Several student representatives spoke at the ceremony, honoring the memory of the donors and expressing thanks to the families in attendance.

Eileen Curry from the School of Medicine said, "I will never forget the rare opportunity we were given to learn from our silent teachers."

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