Category: Physical Therapy

32 candles were ignited to show respect and gratitude towards each of the donors who dedicated their bodies to the College of Health Sciences.
32 candles were ignited to show respect and gratitude towards each of the donors who dedicated their bodies to the College of Health Sciences.

Showing Gratitude to Anatomy Donors

May 04, 2022 Written by Colin Heffinger | Photos courtesy of Madison Roahrig and Emily Schmidt

Students, faculty, and staff stand in line to light a candle in honor of the 32 anatomical donors over the past two years.
Students, faculty, and staff stand in line to light a candle in honor of the 32 anatomical donors over the past two years.

On Sunday, April 24, the University of Delaware’s College of Health Sciences hosted its 2022 Anatomical Donor Service of Gratitude in the Audion of STAR Tower. The event was attended by students, faculty, and staff at CHS, as well as families related to the donors.

The Service of Gratitude provides anatomy lab students and faculty a space to show respect and appreciation to the donors and their loved ones who have generously given the gift of opportunity to engage in directly learning human anatomy. These donors are often referred to as “silent teachers” and have played a critical role in the development of future healthcare professionals.

The next of kin and their families of 32 donors were invited to join the event. Students have worked with these donors for the past two years as part of the Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) program and the Kinesiology and Applied Physiology program. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this event has been postponed over the last two years.

Speeches were led by Kathleen Matt, Dean of the College of Health Sciences, as well as faculty leaders and students of the anatomy lab. Each speaker contributed sentiments concerning the importance of their experience working with the donors and the impact their gift will have, even beyond the students of UD. The learned lessons are carried by students as they enter the working world and continue to make a difference in health sciences.

Patrick Knapp, a second year DPT student and member of the Service of Gratitude Committee, highlighted the impact the donors have beyond the typical classroom environment.

“The wisdom these donors have bestowed upon us goes beyond the information gleaned from a textbook,” Knapp said.

Patrick Knapp, second year DPT student and member of the Service of Gratitude Committee, presents his speech at the 2022 Anatomical Donor Service of Gratitude.
Patrick Knapp, second year DPT student and member of the Service of Gratitude Committee, presents his speech at the 2022 Anatomical Donor Service of Gratitude.

Following the initial presentations, John Buggeln, a PhD student in the Sensorimotor Learning Lab, presented his speech discussing the meaning and importance of labyrinths as “cross-cultural symbols with origins across different cultures and religions” spanning the world. The College of Health Sciences Memorial Labyrinth, constructed in 2019 on the north end of the Health Sciences Complex, was designed for reflection and dedicated to the anatomical donors who donated their bodies to the college.

“These labyrinths exist as a unique symbol of shared humanity,” Buggeln said. “It serves as a reminder to the healthcare workers and students who walk past it every day that beyond the numbers, the rankings, and the technical knowledge should be that burning question, ‘what matters and why.’ For those who come for healing, it is a reminder of humanity and their dignity as people.” 

During the service, students, faculty, and staff expressed their gratitude for each donor by individually reading their names and the names of their loved ones in attendance. Then, they lighted a candle in their honor. Upon conclusion, time was set aside for students and faculty to converse with donors’ loved ones more directly by the Memorial Labyrinth.

Aerial view of the Health Sciences Complex and the Memorial Labrynth
The College of Health Sciences Memorial Labyrinth was designed in 2019 and is easily accessible at the north end of the Health Sciences Complex.

This Saturday, May 7, is National Labyrinth Day, an annual event dedicated to meditation and celebration of experiences in labyrinths. Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to use this easily accessible space for reflection in their lives.

“Walking through the labyrinth itself can be a powerful experience,” Buggeln said. “It is a symbol of the culture we aim for here at UD.”


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