For Colette Egner and her family, donating their bodies to The University of Toledo College of Medicine was a practical decision that will help advance science and medicine.
She, as well as her parents, husband and sister, signed up to participate in the Anatomical Donation Program in the early years of the program at the former Medical College of Ohio that began accepting bodies in 1969.
“We all looked at each other and thought, ‘Why not?’ If somebody can learn from us, so be it,” Egner said. “We always tell each other if we can help someone through our lives and even our deaths, perhaps to find a cure or a new drug, it’s better for all human kind.”Her husband, Richard A. Egner, passed away in 1987 and her father, John D. Kalisz, died last year. The family was able to have memorial services for their loved ones, Egner said, but did not need to deal with funeral arrangements and the associated expenses.
The Kalisz family was featured recently by WTOL’s Chrys Peterson in a special news report on UT’s Anatomical Donation Program. Peterson also spoke to students and faculty involved in the program.
Registration for donation requires completion of several forms, which must be submitted to the UT Department of Neurosciences at least one week prior to the donor’s death. A donation fee of $100 must accompany the completed registration. The family is responsible for arranging and paying for transportation of the deceased donor to the Department of Neurosciences. All other expenses, such as permits, death certificate and cremation, are arranged and paid for by the University.
After the medical studies are complete, students who learned from the donated bodies organize a memorial service to honor the donors and their families. The University also arranges for cremation of the remains, which are then either returned to a relative or interred in UT’s communal memorial plot at the Historic Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo.
“These generous donations are an invaluable learning tool for our students to study the anatomy of the human body beyond the textbook and traditional classroom,” said Dr. Mark Hankin, director of the Anatomical Donation Program and professor in the UT Department of Neurosciences. “The real-life and practical experiences working with a cadaver through this program are immeasurable.”
About 3,000 students at the University learn from cadavers each year, including medical and physician assistant students, as well as those studying other health-care fields such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and kinesiology.
Valerie Allen, a first-year medical student at UT who just finished the Human Structure and Development course that uses a cadaver, said the opportunity to use a real body to learn was very important.
“No matter how hard you studied and how many pictures you looked at before, you would still be baffled,” Allen said. “You really need to see it firsthand to know where everything is and how everything works.”
Allen said she and other students have great respect for people who make the decision to donate their bodies so future health-care providers can learn from them. Allen’s grandmother, in fact, is considering donation after hearing from her granddaughter how much the cadaver helped with her education.
“It’s amazing that they really want to do something with their remains to help others,” Allen said of the donors. “I know that this is somebody’s grandfather who made this decision and it’s helping me. That’s really important.”
For more information, contact the Anatomical Donation Program at 419.383.4109 or firstname.lastname@example.org.