Nicole Dodge.

“I learned so much because of the gifts your loved ones made,” medical student Nikki Dodge told families of donors.

Med Students Honor Anatomical Gift Donors at Memorial Service

Published June 30, 2014 This content is archived.

Story by Alexandra Edelblute

At a memorial service honoring donors to the University at Buffalo’s Anatomical Gift Program, UB medical students shared how anatomical gifts have informed and enhanced their medical education.

“Those amazing people’s gifts mean that I’ll be better able to take care of the lives entrusted to me. ”
Nikki Dodge
Rising second-year medical student

More than 500 family members of people who donated their bodies to the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences attended the June 19 non-denominational ceremony to commemorate their loved ones.

Giving Thanks for Learning Experiences

Nikki Dodge and Maxwell Diddams, both rising second-year medical students, spoke at the service and conveyed their gratitude for donors’ contributions. 

“I learned so much because of the gifts your loved ones made,” said Dodge. “I will be grateful to your loved ones for the rest of my life.”

Emphasizing that cadavers are “serious gifts,” Diddams expressed feelings of indebtedness toward donors.

“My success in anatomy was based on someone else’s death. My success as a physician is based on the compiled suffering of millions before me. They couldn’t raise tuition high enough to pay that cost, and I don’t want to become the entitled doctor who mistakes that privilege for a right,” he said.

Future Patients, Students Benefit

Dodge, who helps teach a summer anatomy class for physical and occupational therapy students, emphasized that the knowledge she gained in the anatomy lab will be indispensable in the future. 

“Now I’m teaching what I learned to my students,” she said. “As physical and occupational therapists, they will go on to improve their patients’ lives in more tangible ways than I ever may.”

“The sacrifice your loved ones made wasn’t for my benefit; it was for the benefit of my future patients, and my students’ future patients,” she said. “Those amazing people’s gifts mean that I’ll be better able to take care of the lives entrusted to me.”

UB’s Anatomical Gift Program Largest in NY

With 500 donations each year, UB has the largest program in the state.

The next largest program receives approximately half that number, notes Ray Dannenhoffer, PhD, associate dean for support services and director of the Anatomical Gift Program.

“Anatomical donation is becoming more acceptable and people are more comfortable with it,” he says.

Additionally, economic considerations and the fact that more baby boomers are dying have significantly increased the number of people opting to leave their bodies to medical science.

Memorial Service Held Biennially

A memorial service for UB donors takes place at Skinnersville Cemetery on the UB North Campus every other year. 

Some donors’ ashes were interred in a communal grave at the cemetery; other families chose to have the ashes of their loved ones returned to them or buried privately.