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Students Thank Families Who Gave Bodies to Medicine

Chicago Tribune: beloved Northwestern professor donated body for anatomy studies

CHICAGO – Even after his death, Mark Mahowald, who was a professor emeritus in the department of mathematics at Northwestern University, found a way to continue helping Northwestern students learn, according to a feature that ran on the front page of the Chicago Tribune.

According to the article, when Mahowald passed away July 20, 2013, his family followed his wishes and donated his body to Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, where medical students studied his remains as part of an anatomy course.

First-year students at Feinberg recently held a ceremony to express their gratitude to the people who donated their bodies. Several members of Mahowald’s family attended the event, which included poetry and essay readings, musical performances and a flower ceremony.

“As medical students, we are incredibly privileged to learn anatomy from those who donated their bodies to medicine,” said James Maloy, a first-year Feinberg student who helped organize the ceremony.

Mahowald’s family told the Chicago Tribune that they were not surprised that he donated his body to the medical school because the sciences and teaching were important to him.

Mahowald came to Northwestern in 1963 and in his career published 144 papers on algebraic topology. He continued to mentor students and co-author papers after retirement. When he passed away from complications of a lung condition, his family, friends and colleagues gathered at the Sheil Catholic Center at Northwestern to celebrate his life.

His life was celebrated once again at Northwestern at the ceremony hosted by the medical students.

“This learning experience is a unique and special gift for which we are all grateful,” added Maloy, the first-year Feinberg student. “The ceremony is a way for us to show our appreciation to the donors and their loved ones for all they have contributed to our medical education. Their generosity will remain with us, and we’d like to express our sincere gratitude."

Read the entire piece online in the Chicago Tribune.

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