Medical Students Honor Those Who Gave Bodies to Medical Science

Albany Medical College students and faculty members paid tribute to more than 200 people who died and donated their bodies to the College’s Anatomical Gift Program for medical education. A ceremony was held graveside by the college’s plot at the Albany Rural Cemetery, where flowers were placed by medical students as donors’ names were read. Students and the program’s director, Michael Smith, MD, shared brief remarks in honor of the donors, which were recorded and will be shared with families.

By choosing to give their bodies to science, donors enable students to better understand the structure of the human body through dissection, a lesson that cannot be taught through lectures and textbooks. Students say the time they spend in the anatomy lab with their donors conjures a variety of emotions.

“We were humbled thinking of just how much courage it must have taken to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of humanity and for a future they would never see, but in hopes of new treatments they had always envisioned,” recalled Ridwan Khan, ’24

Addressing the donors’ families, Corynn Dziezynski, a student in the Physician Assistant Studies Program, said, “In many ways, your loved ones were some of our first teachers in medicine…They taught us the importance of sacrifice for the good of others, and the significance of maintaining our patients’ dignity as they entrust us with providing the most intimate of care.”