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UMMC Honors Anatomical Donors

JACKSON, Miss.- Families, friends, colleagues, and students all gathered at the University of Mississippi Medical Center on Wednesday in memory of those who chose to donate their bodies to the medical research field after their passing. The University of Mississippi Medical Center’s education curriculum mostly revolves around studying, reading a textbook, tests, quizzes, and research papers; all things that are done in a traditional classroom setting. But what about hands-on learning? What about experiencing first hand what it’s like in the medical field, to have to work with a human body? That’s where an anatomical donor comes into play.

UMMC professor and Chair of the department of Neurobiology and Anatomical Sciences, Dr. Michael Lehman says that over 200 bodies were donated to the medical center in the past year. “There’s just no other way that they can learn about the human body in the degree of detail and reality that they can by getting to know the cadaver and really understanding how the human body is put together,” said Lehman. “It’s essential for them to be the best doctors that they can. And we know that from experiences at many medical schools, and from tracing their experiences when they go later on in to practice. And this very early exposure of the human body is absolutely essential for them to become the very best doctors possible.”

First-year medical student Johnny Lippincott can concur to everything the professor mentioned, and from a student’s perspective, he sees this opportunity to work in the school’s anatomical lab as invaluable. “It’s immeasurable,” Lippincott said. “Experience versus ideas are two very different things. The experience we get from spending time in the anatomy lab; learning the intricate details of the body, the ins and outs… this is ironic to say, but it’s intangible because it’s actually tangible. But what we get out of it is something that we could never get from anywhere else. I could look at all the videos, all the 3D models in the world, and if I spent hundreds of times longer on that than I did in the anatomy lab, I wouldn’t have near as good of an idea.”

Lippincott has a personal connection to this field. His uncle Rodney died last summer, and he decided to donate his body to this field of research. But not to worry, Johnny says there is a protocol followed to ensure that he doesn’t end up working with Uncle Rodney in the future. “My personal beliefs lead me strongly to either consider organ donation or giving my body to science one day.”

Entertainment for the ceremony was provided by Vocalis, an eight-piece vocal group comprised of first-year medical students at UMMC. You can listen to a piece of their performance of Amazing Grace below.

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