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Donate your body and change a life

- Wits University

The body donation programme in the School of Anatomical Sciences is the foundation of educating future medical researchers and healthcare professionals in SA.

In 2019, the Wits School of Anatomical Sciences celebrates its centenary. There are many festivities planned to coincide with International Anatomy Week from 14-18 October, including the importance of the ongoing body donor programme to the school for training the next generation of health professionals. In line with ethical best practice, the school depends on informed consent from body donors.

The School of Anatomical Sciences celebrates its centenary by hosting a public exhibition at the Maropeng Visitor Centre Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Siteat Maropeng

"The study of anatomy has been and continues to be the foundation for the training of medical and allied health sciences professionals. For this purpose, the dissection of cadavers remains a fundamental aspect of anatomy", says Prof. Maryna Steyn, Head of the School of Anatomical Sciences.

"In an attempt to ensure the continuation of cadaver-based teaching, we would like to generate interest about our body donor programme and  encourage donations. We acknowledge and celebrate the generosity of the donors that have contributed to the training of many health professionals over the last century as our school celebrates 100 years of teaching excellence."

The gold standard for teaching Anatomy

As the digital era expands to include medical software and apps, methods of teaching human anatomy have diversified. However, many researchers and students agree that cadaveric [body] based teaching remains the gold standard, which forms an integral part of the learning process for health professionals. 

International Anatomy Week presents an opportunity for the school to create greater awareness  of the body donation programme amongst diverse communities in South Africa. People are encouraged to consider donating their bodies to ongoing scientific research after their death. Researchers and students in the school have shared their experiences of working with cadavers in a series of videos:

International Anatomy Week

The International Federation of Associations of Anatomists (IFAA) designated 15 October as the annual International Anatomy Day. This date commemorates the day on which Vesalius, the father of anatomy, died in 1564. Wits Professor Beverley Kramer is President of the IFAA. Next Tuesday, she will deliver a lecture series on the history of the School of Anatomical Sciences, followed by young academics who will speak on the future of Anatomy teaching and research.

The school's centenary celebrations unclude an Open Day in the Hunterian Museum on 16 October. Here Prof. Laurence Chait will share his memories of Anatomy and award prizes to the winners of the Art of Anatomy competition.