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A Piece of My Mind
July 25, 2007

Connecting the Dots to Make a Difference

JAMA. 2007;298(4):381-382. doi:10.1001/jama.298.4.381

It has been 16 years since I (E.F.T.) first put on the gray laboratory coat of an anatomy teacher. In recent years, I have come to the philosophy that students should not assign names to their cadaver donors. They are real people, who gave to all in service and in death. To give them names that are not their own seems disrespectful and diminishes their dignity. Thus, my student physicians and I are fortunate to know the “real” first names of our donors. However, it was when Fern came into my laboratory that one of my medical students (A.D.P.) and I really learned how much any single donor can affect our lives. In fact, we write this in my office, where her photograph sits on my shelf overlooking us as our thoughts coalesce on paper.

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