Memorial service to be held at West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM)

By David Esteppe

WVSOM will host a memorial service in honor of its Human Gift Registry donors on campus Friday, May 16 at 3 p.m. in the Alumni Center. The college has invited 45 families of donors to this service. In addition to clergy delivering the appreciation ceremony, first year medical students have been rehearsing and preparing to perform music and song to show their regard for the process of being a donor. Military students will also be doing a Flag Salute.

The donation of your body for the purpose of medical education and research is a supremely compassionate gesture. Donations may be made by an individual over the age of eighteen; or may be made by authorized family after death. The Human Gift Registry is a whole body donation program; organ donors cannot be whole body donors.

The donation process is simple, and does not require any special legal or attorney service. A completed, signed and witnessed Donor Registry Form is all that is required. Find all information and forms at or call WVSOM registry coordinator at 304-647-6208 or 1-800-356-7836 extension 208. One may donate to WVSOM, Marshall University or West Virginia University through the registry.

Bodies donated through the registry are treated with the utmost respect and dignity, for both the donors and the families. All funeral expenses are covered, including transporting the remains and cremation. Disposition of remains can be returned to the family or are interred in the memorial vault at the Rosewood Cemetery. The only cost not covered is the fee for a Certified Death Certificate, as that process must be done by next of kin.

There are a few conditions affecting donation, which include knowing time of death, whether or not there are infectious diseases, prior arrangements for organ donation, recent surgery, and condition of the body in the event of trauma at time of death. Upon the time of death, a 24 hour answering service is in place to ensure attention to the donation process.

“The people who donate their bodies are some of the most important teachers in a medical student’s education. They are our very first patient and provide the knowledge base for all patients we will treat in the future,” states Katie Brunner, WVSOM Class of 2012.

A memorial service is held for the donors and their families each year.

Wallace & Wallace Funeral Home in Ronceverte is currently handling the transfers of bodies and providing the crematorium services as the only crematorium in Greenbrier, Pocahontas, Monroe and Nicholas Counties. Pam Arnold, of Wallace & Wallace, says that the funeral home has been around since 1926, and takes great pride in being involved closely with the community they service. “Being a part of the donation process with WVSOM is a natural fit with our bonds to the community,” adds Arnold.


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