Location - Date: Gary, Indiana/January 25, 2013

1. Wide exterior shot of Indiana University School of Medicine Northwest campus, Dunes Medical/Professional building housing the human anatomy lab.

2. Medium shot of anatomy lab exterior, viewing decorated dissection tables before the body donor memorial service.

3. Wide shot of anatomy lab interior and decorated dissection tables.

4. Wide shot of anatomy lab interior and decorated dissection tables.

5. SOUNDBITE: ABDULLAH MALIK/First-year medical student: "You know, it was really pretty special, you know, getting to know the family members a little bit and then them giving us pictures."

6. Medium shot of photos on top of dissection table holding remains of body donor Judy Clemens of Griffith, Ind.

7. Tight shot of photo of body donor Judy Clemens on top of dissection table holding her remains.

8. NATSOT DURING CEREMONY, first-year medical student Abdullah Malik, reading words of appreciation for Judy Clemens, whose remains he dissected during the previous semester: "To have the courage and fortitude to endure as much as she did is a testament to her strength and an inspiration to us all."

9. NATSOT DURING CEREMONY, the Rev. James Wetzstein, reading during ceremony: "My prayer is that those who are preparing for the vocation of medical service will see in your professional lives the opportunity to join in such a stream, of gift-givers."

10. SOUNDBITE: ABDULLAH MALIK/FIRST-YEAR MEDICAL STUDENT: "This is a real person that you're working with, someone who donated their body to science to help you learn, you know, and make you potentially a better doctor and so for that, you know, we're so grateful because it really means a lot and our medical education wouldn't be the same without it."

11. Medium shot of flutist-medical student Jennifer Peugh playing an instrumental piece during the ceremony.

12. SOUNDBITE: ERNEST TALARICO, JR/ANATOMY LAB PROGRAM DIRECTOR/INDIANA UNIVERSITY NORTHWEST (note: he is a PhD, not an M.D.): "If we have a patient or an anatomical donor that we know was a member of the military, we arrange to have military honors presented to that individual."

13. Close shot of ROTC student-bugler Cadet Jaaron Bently playing Taps during the ceremony.

14. Medium shot of ROTC students folding flag that had been atop dissection table holding the remains of body donor Ralph Donnelly.

15. Tight shot of ROTC students' hands holding Donnelly's flag.

16. SOUNDBITE: JOAN TERRY/SISTER OF BODY DONOR JUDY CLEMENS: "She's probably smiling knowing that her body's helping other people, helping these young doctors learn."

17. medium tight of family attendees hugging

18. Tight, medical student holding ceremony program

19. wideshot of anatomy lab during service.

20. SOUNDBITE: ERNEST TALARICO, JR/ANATOMY LAB PROGRAM DIRECTOR/INDIANA UNIVERSITY NORTHWEST (note: he is a PhD, not an M.D.): Talarico interview before the ceremony: "Our students have contact with the family members of those they are dissecting so that they're not only learning the structures and their organization within their patients in the laboratory but they're also establishing a relationship with the family members and learning other things about that patient which goes to what we're trying to teach in medicine today which is total patient care."

21. Tight shot of human bone specimens in the dissection lab.


GARY, Ind. _ When medical students have finished their study and practice work on cadavers, they often hold a respectful memorial service to honor these bodies donated to science.

The ceremonies at Indiana University Northwest's campus have a surreal twist: relatives gather around the cold steel tables where their loved ones were dissected, the cadavers still present but hidden by metal covers tastefully topped with white or burgundy-colored shrouds, flags for military veterans, flowers and candles.

The mixture of grace and goth might sound like a scene straight out filmmaker Tim Burton's quirky imagination. Yet, despite the formaldehyde-scented air and medical specimens perched on shelves nearby, these dissection lab funerals are more moving than macabre.

Medical students who worked on the bodies during the previous semester join the families in the lab and read letters of appreciation about the donors, a clergy member offers prayers, and tears are shed.

Ernest Talarico, an assistant professor and director of anatomy coursework, created the unusual program and began holding the laboratory ceremonies in 2007. The cadavers are considered the medical students' first patients, and students are encouraged to have contact with the donors' families during the semester, too.

At other medical schools, donated bodies remain anonymous and students never meet the families. Talarico said his program humanizes the learning experience.

Talarico prefers not to call the cadaver ceremonies funerals. Death is an obvious component, but Talarico views the services as life-affirming and a chance to give thanks. The education these cadavers provide is invaluable, teaching doctors-to-be how the body works, and what causes things to go wrong.

The location, he said, is only fitting.

"I think it is appropriate in that we honor them in the setting in which they desired to give what they viewed as their last gift to humanity," he said.

Family members are often squeamish about entering that room. This year's ceremony was held Friday, and relatives of one of the six adult donors honored chose not to participate. But even those who did attend had mixed feelings.

Joan Terry of Griffith, Ind. came to honor her sister, Judy Clemens, who died in 2011 at age 51 after a long battle with chronic health problems including multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis. Terry said "She's probably smiling knowing that her body's helping other people, helping these young doctors learn something about her, because that's what she wanted. That's the type of person that she was. She was always giving." Abdullah Malik, one of the first-year medical students who worked on Judy Clemens, stood next to Terry during the ceremony, beside the covered table holding Clemens' remains.