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Body Donors Buried In Biodegradable Containers

July 30, 1985

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Biodegradable cardboard containers are the final resting place for the cremated remains of people who donated their bodies to Vanderbilt University’s medical school, officials said Monday.

Eighty cartons were buried in a 65-foot grave last week in an annual service at the university’s private plot, about 15 miles from campus on a grassy knoll, said Brenda Lair Chene, body donor program director.

She said families are notified of the service about a month in advance and have the option of taking the ashes or having them buried at the gravesite, marked by a single memorial stone.

About half of the donors’ families attend the non-denominational service, she said.

Dr. Jack Davies, professor and retired chairman of the university’s Department of Anatomy, threw the first handful of dirt into the grave Friday.

″They live on in the doctors they help to train,″ Davies said.

Publicity surrounding organ transplant operations and more enlightened attitudes have increased body and organ donations, Mrs. Chene said.

″About 15 years ago there was a severe shortage,″ she said. ″But there has been a change in attitudes in a lot of people facing death ... some people may also want to avoid the traditional funeral.″

Davies said the burial ground was dedicated for the donors.

″We had this ground consecrated in 1963 with all the local leaders of the different religious denominations here,″ he said.

Those whose remains were buried last week included nurses, physicians, secretaries, truck drivers, a dancing teacher, a psychotherapist, a carpenter and a newspaper editor.

Vanderbilt now has a donor list of 4,000, Mrs. Chene said.

The school pays for transportation and embalms the bodies upon receipt. The bodies are then stored in refrigeration until needed for anatomy classes.


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