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Giving Thanks for Whole Body Donations

Einstein students team to light a candlesin memory of their cadaver teachers

Einstein students light a candle in memory of those who donated their bodies to help them become better doctors

How do you thank someone who has given you a priceless gift?

For Albert Einstein College of Medicine first-year students, the answer came in the form of the Convocation of Thanks, a solemn event at which students honored the lives of the 40 individuals who donated their whole bodies to Einstein’s first-year students, making their anatomy studies possible. Similar events honoring these silent instructors take place at medical schools across the nation.

“The cadaver is every student’s first real patient and most important teacher,” said Dr. John Loehner, assistant professor of medicine at Einstein and medical director of Montefiore Medical Center’s Moses Campus during the convocation.

Reliable statistics on whole body donations are difficult to find, but estimates range from 15,000 to 20,000 whole body donations in the U.S. each year. Though technology has supplemented the study of anatomy, these donations continue to play a critical role in helping scientists and medical students better understand the human body.

For medical students who encounter a cadaver during their first year of anatomy, there’s also an emotional component to the lessons they’ve learned. Recalling his first-year anatomy experience, Dr. Loehner said, “You learn how important it is to treat patients, both pre- and post-mortem, with dignity and respect, and to remember that every ‘body’ has something to teach us.”

Read more about the convocation and how Einstein students gave thanks at

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