Cadaveric Oath

“Taking the last breath,
Life fading away from my chest;
Bury or burn the crowd introspect,
My soul smiled and the donor card said-
In the anatomy hall this carcass will rest,
Teaching young doctors to be the best.”

Dr Abhishek garg
Founder : Organum Donum

Death is an acerbic reality and one day we all have to take our leave to the heavenly abode; this is an irrefutable truth which can not be snubbed. Every human is going to perish but humanity is going to stay forever. Humanity and the humane behaviour makes a man immortal and very few pristine souls are privileged with the divine strength to serve the mankind selflessly. The best exemplar of such an altruistic deed is a person who pledges to donate his body after death and the epitome of this humanitarian act is set by the family who executes the donor’s will in the dolorous environment of demise.

Every human death that occurs can have two outcomes afterlife; one is the common unfortunate outcome where we bury, burn or leave the lifeless human corpse for animals to eat, this type of outcome is based upon the local cultural practices. The another outcome which I preach as a fortunate and prolific outcome is where we donate our body to science or organs to save someone’s life. The body thus donated is medically called as a cadaver. Technically speaking, a cadaver is a dead human body that is used by medical students, physicians and other scientists to study anatomy, identify disease sites, determine causes of death, and provide tissue to repair a defect in a living human being. Students in medical colleges study and dissect cadavers as a part of their education. Cadaver is hence called as the first teacher of every doctor.

Science and technology are developing with an incessant pace but still scientific world is unable to replace the nature’s creation. Nature has made human body with such precision that no dummy can mimic it accurately. Thus, to make efficient, competent and learned doctors, hands on study on cadavers is irreplaceable. The non-medico populace is always skeptic about how these cadavers are handled in the dissection halls. It’s very difficult to imagine our loved one getting dissected bit by bit on a table and just the mere thought of this scenario can give goosebumps to anyone who is not related to the health care system.

After donating the body, relatives are always full of multifaceted questions like how the body will be handled, how will it be preserved, how it will be dissected or will their loved ones be given the respect that they deserve. All these reservations and concerns are genuine and should be addressed by the health care staff aptly. Point to ponder here is how to instill empathy and respect in every budding doctor who is going to learn a lot from this cadaver. After a deep thought, Organum Donum- Organ and Body Donation awareness team of University College of Medical Sciences(UCMS) came up with the idea of CADAVERIC OATH.

A Cadaveric Oath is a pledge that a medical student takes before touching the cadaver in the dissection hall; the oath emphases on proper handling with the cadaver, paying tribute to the soul and to knot the idea of empathy in the young medicos minds. Three years back the ceremony of Cadaveric Oath was started at UCMS; this year the family of donor was also called upon in the ceremony and their sagacious words filled every students’ heart with great honor and respect for the cadaver. A brief interaction of medical students and the donors family helped abridge the flow of emotions such that every student was connecting himself/herself with the pristine thoughts of family members. This kind of learning experience is the next step in the direction of inculcating humane touch in medical education, also ceremonies like cadaveric oath sways away the reservations of the donors family and hence percolates a strong positive message in the society.

At the end I would like to make an appeal to all the medical institutes that cadaveric oath is a small ceremony but it has a deep meaning and an ever lasting message. We should promote such pledges among medical fraternity; on one hand it will help making a more compassionate and an empathetic doctor while on the other it will definitely help in increasing the body donation rates.