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By Deborah Manog, UH Student Journalist
It started as a dark, stormy Saturday morning. Rain splashed all over the grounds of the University of Hawai`i Mānoa campus, where the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) held its 2014 Memorial Service for families and friends in honor of those who unselfishly donated their bodies to the Willed Body Program.
The Campus Center ballroom was filled with people, but also with heavy hearts and raw emotion from everyone in the room.
Class of 2017 medical student Jaclyn McLoughlin shared a moving personal story; tearfully expressing her gratitude to the Willed Body donors and their loved ones.
“It’s been such an honor and privilege to be such an intimate part of your life. On behalf of our class, thank you so much for the decisions you’ve made,” said McLoughlin.
First-year medical students plan the memorial service every year to thank the donors from the years before. Most of the donated bodies are used in JABSOM’s anatomy classes to provide medical students with a deeper understanding into the human body, which goes far beyond that which they can learn from a textbook. This ceremony was an opportunity for the medical students to explain to the families and friends what an profound impact the donors have made in their lives.
“Today, we express our gratitude to you, their loved ones, for allowing us (medical students) to be a part of their legacy,” said second-year medical student Mary Rose Nino. “They (donors) continue to make a difference even after their death through each of us.”
A group of medical students, including first-year medical student Hisami Oba, performed a special hula dance to the “The Prayer.”
“It was very emotional just seeing all the love in the room,” said Hisami. “A lot of them (attendees) thanked me for putting on a beautiful ceremony and that’s all I wanted to do, give back to them.”
The memorial officially concluded in the afternoon off the shores of Magic Island. There, the morning’s blustery winds and gray skies briefly parted to let in rays of sunshine during the scattering of the cremated remains at sea, for those who requested that.
Led by an expert, medical students in outrigger canoes paddled swiftly into the ocean with the some of the ashes as members of the Celtic Pipes and Drums of Hawai`i played on their bagpipes a song of tribute to the donors.
Loved ones stood on the rocks and cast flower petals and leis into the water as they said their final goodbyes while the ashes were released. Sure enough, as soon as the paddlers headed back to shore, the Hawaiian skies began to shower blessings down on Honolulu in the form of a light drizzle.
If you would like to learn more about JABSOM’s Willed Body Program, visit: WILLED BODY PROGRAM.
Go to UH MED FLICKR to view more photos of the ceremony at Magic Island by Amanda Shell.