Newswise — The education of physicians is dependent on the generous act of whole body donation, which not only enables students to become astute doctors, but also compassionate medical professionals. Expressing gratitude to those who gave the gift of knowledge, first-year medical students from New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) honored their “first patients” – the 38 men and women who donated their bodies to science – on May 8 at a touching ceremony at the NYIT Old Westbury campus.

Addressing a full auditorium, Wolfgang Gillar, D.O., dean, NYITCOM, reminded medical students that the privilege afforded by these donations not only granted the gift of knowledge to the students themselves, but also to future generations.

“These donations complete the circle of life, and in giving their bodies for your learning, these donors’ contributions are multiplied. These generous individuals are not only sharing their bodies with you, as medical students, but with your future patients as well,” said Gillar. “In providing the opportunity to learn through direct dissection, these donations allow for one of the greatest privileges a medical student can receive.”

Whole body donations allow medical students the opportunity to study the structure and intricacies of the human body, far beyond the capabilities of a textbook or computer. In 24 three-hour sessions last fall, groups of first-year students explored the human body through dissection. These educational activities depend on the conscious decisions of donors while they were alive, and individuals interested in making a donation should contact the Anatomy Department at 516-686-3957. According to Jonathan Geisler, Ph.D., Anatomy Department chair and associate professor, the youngest donor was 56 years old and the oldest was 106.

“As medical students became acquainted with these bodies, they came to know them as individuals, as people who had family, friends and a place in their community. The privilege of whole body donation allows future physicians to not only become familiar with real human anatomy, it also allows them to enter into the field of medicine with a heightened sense of compassion and appreciation for human life,” said Brian Beatty, Ph.D., assistant professor of Anatomy who also helped to coordinate the ceremony.  

Following an indoor ceremony with music from the medical school’s a cappella group, the Note-O-Chords, donors were remembered with a moment of reflection and moving tree dedication. As students lined up to place flowers at the base of a young ash leaf maple tree near the campus pond, they were reminded of the sacrifices others have made for their education.

“Although we did not know our donors before August, we can still imagine the countless possibilities of what they did, what doors they may have opened, what trials they stood against and conquered, whose lives, aside from our own, they touched,” said NYITCOM Class of 2020 President Matthew Levine. “Every person has a story to tell. As physicians, it will be ours to encourage the story be told.”

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About NYIT

New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) offers 90 degree programs, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees, in more than 50 fields of study, including architecture and design; arts and sciences; education; engineering and computing sciences; health professions; management; and osteopathic medicine. A non-profit independent, private institution of higher education, NYIT has 10,000 students attending campuses on Long Island and Manhattan, online, and at its global campuses. NYIT is guided by its mission to provide career-oriented professional education, offer access to opportunity to all qualified students, and support applications-oriented research that benefits the larger world. To date, 100,000 graduates have received degrees from NYIT.


Media Contact: Kim Tucker, PR Strategist, NYIT, 516.686.4013, [email protected]