Physical therapist Sarah Meeker laughs now when she says she told her mother she should not give her body to science.

“I couldn’t believe she wanted to do that,” Meeker said. “I had gone to three different anatomy classes and dissected cadavers. I remembered the gallows humor.”

But after watching the medical students of University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) Willed Body Program honor her mother, Amy Toda Meeker, and the 179 other body donors recognized in a unique ceremony on April 13, Meeker has changed her mind.

“So now I totally appreciate what she did. And I think it’s awesome,” she said. “We’re going to go home and sign up. I hope that the University of Washington has the same thing as you.”

Meeker was standing outside the Farrington High School Auditorium where UH medical students had just finished hosting a memorial service that included music and hula performances by JABSOM students. Other students spoke about what working with the individuals they had been privileged to come to know so intimately meant to them.

Following the memorial, a scattering of ashes ceremony was held off of Magic Island, where canoes carried the students out to sea as they scattered the ashes of the dead along with flower lei into the ocean. Mourners watched from the shore as the group Celtic Pipes and Drums of Hawaiʻi played the bagpipes nearby.

medical students waiving from canoes

Medical students wave to mourners offshore after scattering ashes of body donors.