June

Ceremony honors anatomical donors: UMMC’s most valuable teachers

Published on Thursday, June 1, 2017

Published on June 01, 2017

NOTE: This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of CONSULT, UMMC's monthly electronic newsletter. To have CONSULT, and more stories like this, delivered directly to your inbox, click here to subscribe.

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Gloria Moore Shelton confirmed her pledge to donate her body to science on a breezy but solemn day in a cemetery that holds the remains of others who made the same promise.

Her inspiration was strengthened during a ritual honoring those men and women: anatomical donors whose gifts have contributed, or will, to the education of students in occupational therapy, physical therapy, dentistry and medicine at the Medical Center.

Shelton, a Jackson resident who appeared at the April 26 observance in the UMMC Cemetery with her daughter and four sisters, said she'll follow the example of her mother, one of more than 270 donors whose names were read aloud during the annual Ceremony of Thanksgiving attended by their relatives, along with faculty members, students and others. 

The vocal group Vocalis performs at the ceremony.
The vocal group Vocalis performs at the ceremony.

Shelton heard tributes from Vocalis, a choir of first-year medical students, with their acapella performances of “It Is Well with My Soul” and “Amazing Grace.”

She heard testimony from such beneficiaries as Rebekah Watson, a Class of 2019 occupational therapy student, who addressed the donors' families this way: “What better way can anyone serve than to sacrifice their body? I would like all of you to remember your loved one and a life well-lived.”

And from Meghan Pritchard, a first-year physical therapy student, who said of the donors, “Even in death, they continue to give . . . They taught us what makes us walk and dance and sing . . . Through their sacrifice, they will always live in us.”

And from Stephen Greer, a first-year dental student, whose grandparents made the commitment as well: “Your loved one and my grandparents, in my opinion, are the most valuable . . . teachers we will ever have.”

John Bobo, a first-year medical student, speaks during the ceremony.
John Bobo, a first-year medical student, speaks during the ceremony.

And from John Bobo, medical school Class of 2020: “Your loved ones' great generosity pushes medicine forward . . . They showed us exactly what makes us human.” Referring to his classmates and their experience in the Gross Anatomy Lab, he added, “It's a certainty that your loved ones left a mark on 145 men and women in white coats.”

In the face of such gratitude, Shelton said afterward, “I understood it all better now, listening to the students say how much it means to them.

“To say that someone is living on even after leaving this world, that is something special.”

One of those living on is the matriarch of the Moore family: Elizabeth Moore of Jackson, mother of Gloria Shelton and her sisters - Lucy Moore, Janie Moore Craft, Lisa Moore and Sidney Moore - and the grandmother of Gloria Shelton's daughter, Adatisha Shelton.

All were present at the celebration and gathered later to remember their loved one, describing her as a “giver” who “always wanted to help someone.”

For many, the help that Elizabeth Moore and others have provided is indispensable to the education of health professionals.

Lehman, professor and chair of neurobiology and anatomical sciences, addresses the attendees.
Lehman, professor and chair of neurobiology and anatomical sciences, addresses the attendees.

No Ceremony of Thanksgiving passes without someone avowing that understanding human anatomy thoroughly requires studying the human body - an experience no textbook can duplicate.

Dr. Michael Lehman, professor and chair of neurobiology and anatomical sciences, brought home that point in his remarks to the families: “Whatever their occupation in life, you can now add . . . 'honorary professor.'”

Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, concluded the day by praising the “amazing grace and generous spirit” of the 272 donors named by Dr. Allan Sinning, professor of neurobiology and anatomical sciences and director of the Body Donation Program, in what Woodward described as “the roll call of heroes.”

Dr. Alan Sinning, professor of neurobiology and anatomical sciences and director of the Body Donation Program, reads the names of those who donated their bodies in 2016.
Dr. Alan Sinning, professor of neurobiology and anatomical sciences and director of the Body Donation Program, reads the names of those who donated their bodies in 2016.

For more information:

For more information about UMMC's Body Donation Program, call (601) 984-1649, email bodydonation@umc.edu, or click here.