If you’re passing through Birmingham, Alabama, take a second to stop and pay your respects to some selfless folks you’ve never met, who donated their bodies to medical training.
On the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine (UAB SOM), you can find an eye-catching, metallic sculpture standing in a concrete space that appears to have been forsaken by the campus architects. Nestled between the UAB SOM and Lister Hill Medical Library, the sculpture serves as a symbol of gratitude, a memorial to the total willed body donors. Those generous souls, who, even in death, wished to continue to serve a useful purpose. They have, quite literally, given of themselves to make a contribution to the education of the next generation of healthcare professionals.
The donors’ identities and privacy are fiercely protected in the anatomy lab, but here at the memorial, they are no longer anonymous, their names are permanently etched into the metal of the monument. Sometimes the donors’ families may be seen visiting the site, taking a tracing or rubbing of the carved names. Even you can stop by and visit the sculpture for a quiet moment of reflection and perhaps gain an appreciation for the giving spirit these people practiced in life.
Maybe consider becoming a donor yourself. It won’t kill you.