HKU Presents: New Book Launch on Dissecting the Meaning of Life: An Anthology of Essays on Body Donation
Medical students and writers shared their views on body donation and anatomy dissection
04 Jul 2015
The Division of Anatomy, School of Biomedical Sciences of the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong (HKU), joins hands with the Medical Ethics and Humanities Unit of the Faculty to present a new bilingual book, “Dissecting the Meaning of Life: An Anthology of Essays on Body Donation”, to our community. Included in the book are many essays written by medical students reflecting on their dissection experience and their relationships with their Great Body Teachers, and the book is dedicated to all the body donors and their families over the past 40 years. The book launch was held today (July 4) where writers and medical students shared their views on body donation and anatomy dissection.
The co-ordinator of the HKU Body Donation Programme, Dr Chan Lap-ki, Associate Professor of Institute of Medical and Health Sciences Education and School of Biomedical Sciences, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, HKU, commented, “The anthology is a unique and powerful collaborative effort that is a manifestation of the Faculty mission statement. In this anthology we hear the voices of medical students themselves, as well as those of the families of the Great Body Teachers. Being a teacher of Anatomy, I think Anatomy is in fact an important foundation for every medical field no matter what direction medical students choose to pursue in their clinical career. What I hope for the students is that they can be inspired and touched when they look into the universe of the human body and experience a sense of gratitude for our Great Body Teachers.”
Year 3 medical student, Sophie Shu-ling Yeow, shared her dissection experience and said, “My Great Body Teacher taught me a lot of anatomy. However, an even more important lesson she taught me was her generosity and selflessness by donating her body, her most prized possession, to the future of the medical profession, in the hope that her contribution would result in the birth of not only more clinically adequate doctors, but more humanistic caregivers too.” The beloved daughter of a Great Body Teacher Ms Sau Fong Chu and a second-year medical Student, Belle Pui-hang Lau shared, “my mother was very determined to donate her body as she hope that being a Great Body Teacher can enhance medical research progression and assist me as a medical student to learn. She would rather have us cut a thousand incisions through the skin of her dead flesh, than make a single wrong incision on our future patients. As the daughter of one of Great Body Teachers, I have the highest respect for all of them. The Great Body Teachers were all selfless people and they will always be remembered.”
About Dissecting the Meaning of Life: An Anthology of Essays on Body Donation
This anthology of essays are contributed by many medical students, families of body donors, professors and professionals in life and death education. The book is being divided into four parts, in order to help the readers to understand that the true meaning of the Body Donation Program goes well beyond securing bodies for medical education and research. It even stimulates the students and the public to reflect on the nature of death and thence of life.
In Part I, Biomedical Education, students describe how the unique dissection experience made learning anatomy a much more realistic and relevant endeavour when compared with learning from the idealized images found in atlases and models. In Part II, Medical Humanities, students explored their emotional reactions to dissection and how these reactions have helped them to learn the humanistic aspect of medicine.
Different perspectives on life and death are explored in Part III, Life and Death Education. During dissection, the abstract concept of death took on its most concrete form, as cadavers lying on the dissection table. This close proximity to death itself caused some students to contemplate the meaning of death, which brought them to a deeper understanding of life, which in turn can instruct on how they may wish to live their own lives.
In Part IV, Voices of the Public, the family members of several Great Body Teachers share the life of these donors, either in their own words or through interviews with medical students. Readers can further understand the reasons why they decided to donate their bodies, and they are always simple and pure: to help others and to contribute to society. These views echo the students’ emotions expressed in how they felt about their Great Body Teachers.
The origin of the name “Great Body Teachers”
Great Body Teachers are those who allow the use of their bodies to teach others about the macroscopic structure and organization of the human body. Since this branch of anatomy is called gross (大體) anatomy (解剖), we respectfully call them Great Body (大體) Teachers (老師).
If we follow our heart in the doing of good, we are what Mencius called great people: “those who follow their greater parts (dati 大體) become great people; those who follow the lesser parts (xiaoti 小體) are the lesser people.” Great Body Teachers are those great people who help others achieve medical miracles beyond the boundaries of life and death.
About Great Body Teacher, Body Donation Programme, HKU
Body donation has a long history in the Faculty of Medicine. In 1974, the Department of Anatomy received the first local citizen’s body donation from the society. In recent years, the demand for human bodies for medical education and research has soared. The Faculty has thus emphasised and promoted the Body Donation Programme to encourage more people to donate their bodies after they pass away for the purposes of medical education and research.
To use the press release photo(s) for any publishing, publicity and related purpose, photo courtesy should be given to “Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong”
(From left) Executive officer of the HKU Body Donation Programme, Miss Edith Chung, the co-ordinator of the HKU Body Donation Programme, Dr Chan Lap-ki, Associate Professor of Institute of Medical and Health Sciences Education and School of Biomedical Sciences, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, HKU and year 2 medial student Belle Lau Pui-hang, year 3 medical students Dennis Lo, Sophie Yeow Shu-ling and Dulcia Chang attended the New Book Launch on Dissecting the Meaning of Life: An Anthology of Essays on Body Donation.
HKU Presents: New Book Launch on Dissecting the Meaning of Life: An Anthology of Essays on Body Donation.