Family members of donors invited to service of thanksgiving and remembrance scheduled for Jan. 14

The Indiana University School of Medicine–Northwest (IUSM-NW) will host a memorial service on Friday, Jan. 14 in honor and recognition of the six anatomical donors who selflessly gifted their bodies to scientific learning. The service will begin at noon at the medical school located on the Indiana University Northwest campus in Gary, Ind.

The ceremony will remember and give thanks to Russell Borrelli, Estle Loomis, Jean Polick, Sally Snyder, Beulah Welty, Elmer Cline, and our child and fetal donors.

In a practice that is unique to IUSM-NW, family members of the donors have had contact with the students who have been dissecting their loved ones throughout the formal human gross anatomy course. And now, these family members have been invited to the memorial service so that they may also celebrate the lives and generosity of their loved ones.

Several of the donors will receive special tributes, including:

  • Russell Borrelli: The patriotic Chicago White Sox fan’s family will be presented with an autographed baseball from former Chicago White Sox star Ron Kittle (#42).
  • Estle Loomis: This veteran will receive military honors conducted by the IU Northwest ROTC.
  • Jean Polick: At 106 years old, she is the oldest donor in the history of the IU School of Medicine and the State of Indiana Anatomical Education Program.
  • Anonymous 5-year-old donor: Her family donated her remains directly to Dr. Talarico’s program after her tragic death.
  • Fetal donors: Remembering our youngest donors, who continue to contribute to the education of future physicians.

The service, coordinated by IUSM-NW’s first-year medical students, will provide student doctors, faculty and staff the opportunity to express their thanks for the gifts of the donors. In written passages, songs and prayers, the students will reflect on the privilege that has been afforded to them by the donor who endowed his or her body to medical education and research.

The medical students will present a painted memorial in honor of the donors and a candle plaque in recognition of the fetuses and the anonymous five-year-old donor. Both tributes will be displayed within the IUSM-NW.

The formal service will be facilitated by Rev. Frederick Niedner, Professor of Theology at Valparaiso University, and by Ernest Talarico, Ph.D., Assistant Director of Medical Education and course Director for human gross anatomy and embryology at IUSM-NW.

Talarico’s innovative approach to gross anatomy education is focused on emphasizing the dignity and humanity of the body donors who have become his student doctors’ first patients.

As part of the “Talarico Protocol for Human Gross Anatomy” (TPHGA), medical students are given the opportunity to correspond with, and sometimes even meet the families of the donors they work with during their first-year anatomy class. It’s an experience, Talarico said, that can have a fundamental impact on their future interactions with patients.

The six anatomical donors first arrived on campus in July as part of the IUSM-NW’s International Human Cadaver Prosection Program, an annual and truly unique summer program allowing non-physician and non-medical student volunteers to become active participants in a gross anatomy lab.

During the Prosection Program, the volunteers worked alongside medical students and faculty, practicing physicians and other professionals to ready the body donors for the Fall semester’s gross anatomy classes. The volunteers were tasked with removing the donors’ skin and body fat to expose organs, muscles and other anatomical structures.

The medical students then spent their first semester of medical school studying these donors to learn about the construction and function of the human body.

Following the memorial service, a luncheon for all guests will take place. Around 2:30 p.m., all in attendance will view a slideshow of the donors as well as take part in a rose presentation ceremony where all donors who’ve been at the IUSM-NW over the past 12 years will be remembered.

For more information about the IUSM-NW, visit the Web at

Memorial Service Details:


IU School of Medicine – Northwest

Dunes Medical Professional Building (located at the intersection of Jefferson Street and 35th Avenue)

Gross Anatomy Lab (Room 2032)

3400 Broadway

Gary, IN 46408


Friday, Jan. 14, 2011


12 p.m. – Memorial Service

1 p.m. – Luncheon

2:30 p.m. – Slide Show and Rose Ceremony

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