Gift Body Memorial

The KCU campus communities held a heartfelt tradition on June 11 as we memorialized those who bequeathed their bodies to science and our medical program. Their gift as a body donor made a profound statement attesting to their generosity and desire to teach our students how to become caring, competent physicians.

KCU students, faculty and administration delivered heartfelt appreciation and recognition for this most generous act. We hope this meaningful memorial service provided insights into the tremendous impact of their loved ones’ gift on the healing of humankind.


Honoring Your Loved One


Thank you, families, for allowing us to learn from your loved ones. The experience of working with and learning anatomy from your loved ones will greatly benefit our ability to treat future patients. We appreciate the sacrifice and want you to know how much we have learned from this experience in order to better serve our communities.

– Trey Osterholt, III, OMS I


I would like to thank our donor for providing the opportunity to learn the human anatomy so in-depth. The gift you provided will leave a legacy for years to come. And thank you to the families for supporting your loved one’s choices in the name of science. Their dedication to educating future physicians is crucial to our understanding of the body and allows us to be better physicians.

– Anonymous, OMS I


Anatomy may have been very different this year, but still could not have been done without your selfless gift. My anatomy education was strengthened by our anatomy labs and I will always use what I have learned in my career.

– Elizabeth Straus, OMS I


Learning anatomy in the lab was an absolute game-changer for me. Especially after a semester-long online learning, I really appreciated going into the lab and learning hands-on anatomy because it definitely made a difference!! I will forever remember and appreciate my donor because thanks to her I was able to really see and feel what I was taught in the classroom, which solidified the information ten times more for me. Thanks to you for making this experience possible.

– Elif Diricanli, OMS I


I’m very thankful to you and your family member to allow us to have the honor to learn from them. I hope to use the knowledge your family member provided me with in the future as a pediatrician. I know that I will forever be appreciative of their donation, so that I may positively impact many families' lives in the future

– Jansynn Radford, OMS I


Having the ability to participate in the Gift Body Program this year was both an honor and a privilege. As future physicians, the impact that this intimate education of anatomy will have on our careers is immeasurable. It is often said that your cadaver in medical school is your first patient and it has been the opportunity of a lifetime to learn from our donor. While our time in the lab was cut short due to the pandemic, my knowledge and appreciation for the human body has grown vastly. Thank you to our donor and their family for this exceptional experience.

– Rachel Pellegrino, OMS I


Dear Families,

First, I would like to express my deepest condolences for the loss of your loved one.

Being a student at Kansas City University, we are very lucky to be able to learn anatomy using donors. I firmly believe that my anatomy knowledge has been enriched due to their selfless contribution. When I was a first-year medical student, I was so thankful and honored to be able to have these cadavers as my first “patients” while I started my journey in medicine.

This year as an anatomy fellow, I was able to teach anatomy to first-year medical students. Being able to see these students work with these cadavers and learn with such eagerness reinforced my belief that we are so fortunate to have these donors to learn from. I strongly believe that the anatomy knowledge I gained from my time in the lab is unparalleled and will help me and my fellow classmates succeed as future physicians.

I cannot thank you and your loved ones enough for their gift.

– Zubeen D. Azari, M.S., Clinical Anatomy Fellow 2020-2021, D.O. Candidate 2023


Dear Families,

There are many parts of medical school that are difficult, frustrating, and exhausting. It is rare during the first couple of years that we get to experience something that really helps to define what being a doctor is and mimics the feeling of having a real patient. Having the opportunity to learn anatomy with the donors we get at KCU is one of those moments. The donors are truly our first patients as medical students and aid in our educational experiences, in my opinion, more than any other aspect of our education. The donors not only help us to objectively learn anatomy well but also help us to think about things like bedside manner, their families, and the lives they lived. Having this experience is invaluable and I want to sincerely thank you for your support in this experience. 

This year, I had the opportunity to help teach lab to first-year students. Seeing them go through the learning experience I did during my first year was a full-circle experience. I watched students enter lab, some excited, some intimidated, and some not knowing what to expect. As the year went on, they grew to have a deep appreciation for anatomy as well as their "first patients" just like I got to experience a few years ago. 

These donors truly are a cornerstone of the educational experience at KCU and help to produce well-rounded medical students that will be compassionate, educated, and ready for their next patients.

– Anna Stock, Clinical Anatomy Fellow 2020-2021


I would like to express so much gratitude to the families for your generous donation. Through your gift to us, I have learned more than I could have hoped to imagine. I am always humbled every time I reflect on my experiences in the anatomy lab at KCU and am so grateful for the education that I received. It is an experience that many people will never have and an honor to work so intimately with another human being. I have worked or studied in anatomy for the last 4 years and have crossed paths with many donors, but the power of those interactions never fade and never lose their impact. Such a gift inspires generations of healers. I hope you know that it not only shapes students like me directly, but it shapes the care of our future patients and their families as well. It is a beautiful ripple effect that begins with you, so please accept my deepest thanks.

– JonAngelo Perry, M.S., Clinical Anatomy Fellow 2020-2021


To the families who generously donated their loved ones, a simple "thank you" doesn't express how grateful we are for your priceless gift. Your donation has increased not only the knowledge, but also the compassion and empathy in an entire generation of future physicians. Your loved one also contributed to several research projects that will be able to improve surgical procedures and benefit the health of our future patients. Your generosity has made a genuine difference in the future of medicine, and I cannot thank you enough. 

– Micaela Motzko, Clinical Anatomy Fellow 2020-2021


It is difficult to express the impact that each of the donors and their families have had on myself and my classmates. In life, they undoubtedly made a profound difference to those who knew and loved them. Their courageous decision to continue to make that same difference after life to students whom they would never have a chance to meet was an incredible act of selflessness. Though it never feels like enough, I can only say thank you. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart. Thank you to each donor for choosing this path and, in doing so, teaching us invaluable lessons about medicine but more importantly, about compassion, sacrifice, and service in the name of others. Thank you to each family member, loved one, and friend for entrusting us to learn from your mothers and fathers, grandmas and grandpas, brothers and sisters, family members and friends. Please know that I never took a moment I had with them for granted and that this experience will forever shape me as a person and a future physician. Now, I pray that your special someone rests in peace and that you find some small comfort during this period of mourning in the knowledge that their story will forever live on in our hearts and minds.

– Alexis Nelson, OMS I


The one class I looked forward to the most in my first year was anatomy lab. No textbooks or software images can replace the awe of examining and interacting with a cadaver in person. As the novelty settled and as I learned the intricacies of my donor’s body, I wished I had the chance to get to know her as a person. During the gastrointestinal portion of our curriculum, I discovered my donor had pancreatic cancer which had metastasized to her liver and lungs. Yet, despite her pain she thought of giving herself for the betterment of others even after death. I am forever grateful for my donors' and her loved ones’ kindness and generosity. With the gift of knowledge you have given us, we will strive hard to pay it forward.

– Elizabeth Chao, OMS I


I want to start off by saying thank you. Thank you for your donation in which had a HUGE impact on my first year of learning anatomy. This was my very first time seeing any organs in person. Being able to hold and discover the human flesh is so, so incredible and it wouldn't be done without the gracious donors. I'm immensely grateful to have gotten the opportunity to learn hands-on what some students don't get to do, and I truly believe it made a difference in my learning experience and knowledge comprehension. I am interested in sports medicine, so being able to admire the muscles and bones of the body that carried my donor through her life was so cool. I will always remember my donor as my first patient and will be forever grateful of all she taught me! Thank you all again for the generosity, you really don't know how much we appreciate it. God Bless!

– Student Doctor K. Theobalt


After getting accustomed to learning anatomy completely remotely with pictures and computer programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, once we were able to utilize the anatomy lab I was able to appreciate just how important the lab is. Being able to learn anatomy experientially in person, and with my own two hands, has been incredibly helpful, and makes the process of learning feel much more real and applicable to our roles as future physicians. While learning the anatomical intricacies of the people before us, it was easy at times to wonder about the intricacies of their lives left behind. This fostered a substantial respect for them, and great appreciation for their gift and sacrifice to allow us students to get to know their bodies, that we may be better equipped to provide care to others in the future. Our experience with the donors, the first patient for many students, will have a significantly positive impact on the rest of our education and clinical practice. I greatly appreciate this final gift the donors made, and this gift has made, and will continue to make, an important impact on my education.

–  Charlie Schoonover


I really appreciate the opportunity to have been able to get in the anatomy lab during the spring semester. Our class had the unique perspective of being able to compare anatomy education with and without direct access to a gracious donor. In my opinion, my education was tremendously improved with the incorporation of donor lab. My lab partner Kayla and I are very thankful for our donor. Personally, I believe that he was my first patient and for that I will be forever grateful for his and his family’s donation to our education. While it is difficult for me to express my gratitude, please know that this was an opportunity I would not have traded anything for in continuing my education.

–  Grace Thiel, OMS I


This year I had the privilege of working on what you were willing to share. Did you know what you would be a part of? Did you know that your body would be what I envision as I put my hands on the outside of others' bodies? As I try to feel what is within someone’s still-breathing body, that yours would be the one I am visualizing? I run my hands over the muscles of my own children’s arms and legs and yet yours are the ones that I know and see under their skin. Though I didn’t know who you were, I know you both inside and out. I saw the wear and tear of your long life. I saw scars from trauma, enlarged lymph nodes from a disease no longer tormenting you, your heart that beat in your chest, and the lungs that you would take a deep calming breath with. I followed your nerves that brought you pain and pleasure. I traced your arteries and veins that pushed blood throughout your body. And as I worked, I would imagine you using your body and how amazing it is. How intricately everything ties together and I want to thank you for donating this knowledge to me. I will always be looking at people from the outside, but as I try to envision what is within, it will be yours that I see.  

–  Alice Pulsipher, OMS I