'Silent teachers' honored


POSTED: Sunday, April 19, 2009

Their first patients taught them how the human body works, giving them invaluable hands-on knowledge, said University of Hawaii students studying to become doctors.

They honored 78 “;silent teachers”; for the gift of their bodies at an annual memorial ceremony yesterday at the John A. Burns School of Medicine in Kakaako.

“;In a sense, you have achieved what many in our world would strive for—immortality—with your lessons forever inspiring me and impacting those I heal along the way,”; said Amelia Fong, first-year medical student.

Families and friends overflowed the school's 150-seat auditorium and filled an adjacent room to remember those who willed their bodies to the anatomy department in the past year for medical education.

Mary Book said her husband, Charles, who worked for United Airlines, told her many years ago he wanted to be cremated and wanted his body to help others.

When he died April 2, 2007, at the former St. Francis Medical Center-Liliha, she said, a doctor came to her with tears after learning he had willed his body to the medical school. “;She said she had graduated from the university and wanted to thank him,”; Book said. “;I will never forget that moment.”;

Some families took remains of their loved ones home for private services. Ashes of the others were released in the ocean off Magic Island yesterday afternoon by medical students paddling canoes donated by the Koa Kai Canoe Club.

For more information about the Willed Body Program, call 692-1445.




'You Said to Me'


        Written by Viola Chu, University of Hawaii first-year medical student, for the Willed Body memorial ceremony, presented here in part:

You said to me,
        “;Do not be afraid, my dear.
        Hold my hand.”;
        And so I did.
        With gentle hands, I held yours in mine
        And you showed me how once upon a time,
        Your fingers danced upon ivory keys.


You said to me,
        “;Do not be afraid, my dear.
        Walk with me.”;
        And so I did.
        With each lift of the leg and bend of the knee.
        You led me on a journey to a faraway place
        Where I watched your graceful steps make fleeting prints in the powdery white.