Taiwanese Med Students Honor Cadaver Donors

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2009 12:34 PM CDT
Students perform surgery during training carried out on a cadaver.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A Taiwanese medical school is responding to the island nation’s shortage of cadavers for study by bringing the family of the deceased fully into the program, the Wall Street Journal reports. At Tzu Chi University, medical students meet with donors' families and even compose poems to their “silent mentors” to express their gratitude. And before they wield their scalpels, they participate in a farewell ceremony.

In China and Taiwan the body is traditionally protected after death, and corpse donation is infrequent. But “Tzu Chi changed that mindset with the power of religion,” an official said. Founded by a Buddhist philanthropist, the university has seen an uptick in donations since introducing the program. “There's more to teaching a student than just technical ability,” a previously skeptical doctor said. “We need to create compassionate doctors, too.” (Read more Taiwan stories.)