QeeQee Gao, M1, Class of 2022
A preview of the August 2019 Willed Body Ceremony
Two words that aren’t said enough. To our loved ones, a kind stranger, or familiar faces in our everyday lives. But today, the focus of my “thank you” is to you — the audience — and your loved ones who willed their body to medicine.
The human body is not merely a physical manifestation of our time on earth, but also a sacred entity. Our bodies house more than just the anatomy that keeps our heart pumping and our neurons firing, but also our essence — the who, the what and the why we are who we are.
You and I share the same thread in that we have experienced part of your loved ones’ essence. You know their favorite ice cream flavor, the sound of their laugh, the tinkle in their eyes when they smile. You were there on their darkest days and on their greatest triumphs. Your connection is intimate and profound, something that will never be taken away from you. Your loved one’s memories, lives, and legacy live on in and around you every day.
For us, our experience with your loved one’s essence is a little different. We may not have known their favorite color or the dimple on their face when they smile or their most joyful memories. We, however, have the privilege of learning about who your loved ones are from a deeply and equally intimate experience through the physical manifestation of their essence — their body.
Your loved ones taught us the inner workings and wirings of the human body. Even greater, they taught us selflessness, service and humanity through their greatest gift.
I cannot describe how great an act of selflessness your loved ones undergone to pass on their body to teach the next generation of physicians. It is an honor to be entrusted with their bodies. It is a privilege to learn medicine from their anatomy. It is a profoundly, fundamentally humanistic experience that your loved ones have willed us.
As a student, aspiring physician, and fellow human being, I hope — through this brief encounter — to provide my deepest and greatest gratitude to the donors who have slipped beyond the veil and to you, their families who live on after them.
I will end with two understated words, that by no means capture my sentiment and gratitude, and that of my fellow colleagues.