Every year Mississippians facing death donate their bodies to medical education and research. Families rejoice and sometimes struggle with their loved one's decisions.
Families of those who've donated their bodies to further health education and research fill the cemetery at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. They're here for a ceremony to honor anatomical donors. Dr. Allan Sinning, who directs the Body Donation Program, reads a list of more than100 Mississippians who've donated their bodies this year.
It's an emotional day for William Tomlinson. He's here with his brother Andrew. Their 78-year old mother, Glenda Wadsworth of Clinton, died in January, from breast cancer. They donated her body as she wished. Andrew was fine with it. But William wasn't.
"As we talked about it more and more and I saw the love that mother had for others and wanted to donate her body in furtherance of that I slowly changed my mind," said Tomlinson.
Dr. Sinning says having real bodies to study is invaluable.
"This is the only opportunity most of these students will have to really see how a body is made up. You can learn the muscles by looking at pictures and all that stuff, but you don't get the three dimensional relationship," said Sinning.
Pre-Med Student John Bobo says the donors are their first patients.
"These donors are the first people that really allow us to care for them and it means a lot," says Bobo.
Sinning says more than 9,000 Mississippians have signed up to donate their bodies after their death, outpacing other medical teaching facilities in the country.