After pause, UH willed body program is once again accepting donations

UH medical school revives willed body program after pandemic closure

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - After being forced to shut down because of the pandemic, the University of Hawaii’s medical school is once again accepting donations to its willed body program.

Steven Labrash, mortician and director of the program, said he doesn’t want students to think of their silent teacher as an “anonymous entity.”

“We share as much with them as the family or the donor is comfortable with us sharing.”

He says he understands why some people may think the idea of donating after death is morbid.

“Body donations, donating oneself for educational research isn’t for everyone,” he said.

The medical school typically gets 180 donations each year, but the program closed last fall after the pandemic forced anatomy classes online and the medical school ran out of space for cadavers.

“We were running out of places to put these silent teachers and so we made the difficult decision in September that we did have to do a temporary close,” said Labrash.

“The foundation of gross anatomy is tactile learning, learning by touch, seeing the organs and how everything interacts,” he added.

Students and families have a memorial for the person’s remains and while autopsies can be uncomfortable, the class treats their silent teachers with care and compassion.

For safety reasons, the program will not accept a donated body if the person has died from COVID-19.

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