Northeast College Holds Donor Memorial Ceremony, Celebrates First Patients, Silent Teachers
Northeast College of Health Sciences held its 2023 Memorial Ceremony on Oct. 26, 2023, to honor all who donated their bodies for study.
This selfless gift allows students to learn and improve the human condition through healthcare education and research. Each year the College community joins to give thanks and recognize each donor, while also extending gratitude to families for their loved one’s role in furthering healthcare education.
During the ceremony, Northeast College President Michael Mestan said donating ones’ body is a “testament to the deep-seeded desire to contribute to the betterment of humanity – even beyond ones’ lifetime. Through this act, donors become instrumental in advancing knowledge in the health sciences, research and education.”
These contributions to the future of healthcare are made possible by individuals who donate their bodies to the College's Anatomical Gift program. With these whole-body donations, Northeast provides opportunities for students to learn through human cadaveric dissection, considered the gold standard for learning human anatomy and a hallmark of a Northeast College education.
Director of the Northeast Anatomy Center and Anatomical Gift program Dr. Michael Zumpano said, “there is no greater gift than the gift of oneself,” and that even as technology expands, nothing can replace the human body for learning anatomy.
Mortui Vivos Docent: The Dead Teach the Living.
“Donors become silent teachers, and to us, these donors truly serve as our first patients,” Mestan said. Zumpano echoed this sentiment and exemplified the College community’s deep respect for donors by referencing a sign above the Anatomy Center lab entryway that reads: Mortui Vivos Docent (the dead teach the living). While speaking at the ceremony, chiropractic student Sean Kallan (D.C. ’25) expressed his agreement. “Donors are our first patients, but they are also our greatest teacher,” he said.
The faculty address was given by Assistant Professor Robyn Wakefield-Murphy who thanked donor families, noting the "great and enduring legacy" that each donor leaves us. Students reflected on learning from donors and expressed gratitude to their families, as well. Ashley Pigg (D.C. ’25) called the opportunity an “incredible privilege.” William Sayre (D.C. ’25) spoke directly to family members and said, “We thank you for being part of the donor’s journey to being so kind and selfless; in thanking you, we are thanking them as well.”
The service included an invocation by Reverand Leah Ntuala, pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Seneca Falls, and military honors performed by the local U.S. Army Honor Guard, Waterloo American Legion Post 435, and VFW Post 6433.