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Brought to you by the students of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

David Knowles


I will be forever grateful to these wonderful people, your friends and family members.  I owe them a debt of gratitude I hope to repay with each and every future patient that I help.  


Thank you all for coming here today.  It is truly an honor to be able to celebrate the lives of these wonderful people with you.  Even though I cannot thank the donors directly, I hope that through these words I have been able to convey to you how truly grateful I am for their sacrifice and how that sacrifice has instilled in me a sense of awe, appreciation, and respect for each of them.  


Entering the Gross Anatomy Lab for the first time was a defining moment for me.  As I walked through those doors last January, a wave of gratitude for the donors washed over me.  The bodies in the room were physical representations of human selflessness: gifts left behind by their owners in order to train us, the next generation of physicians, so that through their sacrifice, we might save lives.  


I had many awe-inspiring moments working in the lab this past year.  One of these was realizing the complexity of the vascular system.  It is one thing to learn the paths of arteries in a book or video, but it is a completely different experience to actually uncover and follow an artery to the area it supplies and see how it branches into vessels no larger than the width of a toothpick.  It blew my mind realizing how vital each of these vessels is for normal function.  


As I discovered how everything seamlessly fits together while also being so complex, I experienced another eye-opener.  Examining muscles and bones during our musculoskeletal block gave me a new appreciation for movement.  Whenever I move, I now visualize my muscles individually contracting and working together to accomplish a goal, even one as simple as picking up a glass of water.


Whenever we learn about the physiology of different anatomic regions we have already dissected, my mind’s eye is always transported back to the anatomy lab.  Being able to see it in front of me and physically examine the structures helped me learn the material more than a book ever could.  The donors made that possible.








Cadaver memorial:

student reflection

About the author:

David Knowles is a second year medical student at UC.   Last month he had the privilege of addressing the friends and families of the body donors at this year's memorial service.  It was humbling to be able to explain how integral their friends/relatives' sacrifices have been to his medical education.


About the artwork:


"The Agnew Clinic" is an 1889 painting by American Thomas Eakins.  It was commissioned to honor the anatomist and surgeon David Hayes Agnew for his retirement from the University of Pennsylvania.


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