Those Who've Donated Bodies for Science Honored

Those Who've Donated Bodies for Science Honored

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Ed Yeates ReportingOn this day before the Memorial weekend, University of Utah doctors, nurses and medical students had a different kind of tribute to pay to the dead and their families, in a small corner of the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Every year they gather, as Kerry Don Peterson says, to stand in awe of one of the greatest altruistic gifts.

Kerry Don Peterson, Director U of U Body Donor Program: "My definition of a hero is a person who magnanimously gives of their efforts or of their self for the benefit of others without the consideration of personal gain."

These are the families and friends of those who donated their bodies for medical research. Though cadavers is the technical, somewhat cold definition, this tribute in word and music defines much more.

"Gratitude is the fairest blossom that springs from the soul, and I want you to know that my heart is full of gratitude."

Medical students, faculty and researchers, and the families of the donors -- in this hour, at this place, they bond together as one.

"We're very grateful, my brothers and, that she gave this great gift. But this is typical of my mom, and we miss her."

Moms, dads, brothers sisters, sons, daughters, even a medical student's own grandmother who donated her body.

"As I am about to complete my first year of medical school, I would have to say there is one more thing that Nana has taught us to do. She has taught us how to make a difference even after our deaths."

And what a difference beyond the grave – it helps those still alive, as we reported this week, people like Troy Peterson, who is walking because a cadaver's pelvis allowed surgeons to rebuild the lower part of his body.

The outpouring of generosity was especially noteworthy this year. A hundred twenty people gave up their bodies to medical science and education. That's more than ever before.

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