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Cadavers are a crucial resource for medical education, and while there aren't many people who lend their bodies for the sake of research, those who do help train future doctors.
Wednesday, first year medical students at Texas A&M held a service honoring those who have donated their bodies to science.
Donating your body to research sounds unconventional, but without a human body, first year medical students would never know its inner workings.
"There's really no substitution to learning from a real body because the next one we see will be a real person," says medical student Angela Wu.
Wu helped organize a memorial to honor the 21 people who gave their bodies to the Texas A&M College of Medicine, and while Wu says the cadavers are viewed as specimens, they are also people just like them.
"We definitely recognize that it's a real person. It's really an honor to do this and that's what this ceremony is all about," says Wu.
Dr. Wayne Sampson has taught human anatomy at Texas A&M for a quarter of a century. He says it never gets boring.
In the old days only convicts could donate their bodies, now more people are willing to give. Many have told their stories to Sampson before they meet again in class.
"We had a gentleman that said he was never able to go to college so he says when he dies he'll go straight to the top, medical school," says Sampson.
And that is the mood of most that make this difficult decision.
Sampson says they're just as excited about giving themselves to science in the afterlife, as the students are to learn what may save someone's life.
"Many of these people were very giving during life and want to continue that and look forward to help physicians learn," says Sampson.
A nationwide shortage of donors has forced some medical schools to use computer models, but Texas A&M says the resources cadavers offer cannot be replaced.
"There are schools that are using different sorts of things but they don't replace bodies. I tell the students as complex as we are on the outside, it's the same on the inside," says Sampson.
"I don't think we'd get the same experience that we would if we were trying to learn from a computer monitor," says medical student Lori Acosta.
And these students won't have to as long as generous donors continue to give.