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School of Medicine honors body donors, whose gifts advance medical education

Memorial Grove at Tyson offers respite, reflection

by Kristina SauerweinMarch 21, 2024

Video by Huy Mach and Kristina Sauerwein/Washington University School of Medicine

With a meandering path and native blooms, Memorial Grove at Tyson invites respite, reflection and remembrance for family and friends whose deceased loved ones decided, while alive, to donate their bodies to advance medical education at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The donors cremated remains are scattered on the leafy grounds of the university’s Tyson Research Center, which encompasses the .71-acre memorial site and is about 20 miles west of the Medical Campus, near Eureka, Mo.

Memorial Grove at Tyson is affiliated with the university’s Body Donor Program, coordinated through the Office of Education. People who donate their bodies to the program provide in-depth understanding of human anatomy to the university’s medical students, resident physicians, clinical fellows and other trainees.

“Compassionate medicine is one of the first and most important lessons learned in anatomy,” said Amy Bauernfeind, PhD, the program’s director of education and an associate professor in the Department of Neuroscience. “Students are taught to treat all patients — including their first patient, the donor — with compassion, respect and gratitude.”

Learning this way is a profound and humbling experience, said Vikram Pothuri, a fourth-year medical student. “The fact that someone has trusted you with their body instills a deep level of responsibility and gratitude,” he said. “The hands-on experience provides a level of exploration and learning that cannot be replicated in the classroom. My sense of responsibility to patients is built on the sacrifices of the donors who were the first to place their trust in me.”

For information on the school’s annual Donor Remembrance Ceremony, please click here.

Kristina covers pediatrics, surgery, medical education and student life. In 2020, she received a gold Robert G. Fenley Writing Award for general staff writing from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and in 2019, she received the silver award. Kristina is an author and former reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Los Angeles Times, where she was part of a team of journalists that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 for breaking news. Additionally, she covered the 2014 Ferguson unrest for TIME magazine and, for eight years, wrote a popular parenting column for

Huy uses visual storytelling in his coverage of medical education, patient care, and research. He was part of a team of photographers at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography in 2015. He has a bachelor's degree in photojournalism from Western Kentucky University.