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News Archive 2021

Irish Examiner asks: "After life: Would you consider donating your body to science?"

8 Jun 2021
Professor John F. Cryan, Professor of Anatomy (Photograph Clare Keogh)

In an article in today's Irish Examiner, poet and essayist Doireann Ní Ghríofa chats about her decision to donate her body to the Anatomical Donation Programme in the Department of Anatomy UCC. Professor of Anatomy John F. Cryan and Professor Aideen Sullivan Head of Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience explain the UCC donation programme.

Doireann describes how the experience of studying the anatomy of a donor's body as a dentistry student many years ago 'changed her at a deep level'. She 'found it intensely moving as, day by day, week by week', 'going deeper into this human body.'

She describes how “Over the years, I thought a lot about the generosity of that gift. Maybe I could do it? It just seemed right, a natural choice, out of a sense of gratitude to the person who’d given me that gift, and a sense of wanting to give the gift to another generation.”

In the Irish Examiner's article journalist Helen O’Callaghan also chats with Professor Aideen Sullivan, Head of Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience who explains that 'every year, between 150 and 200 people sign up to donate their bodies to UCC’s anatomy department, but those bodies may not come through until decades later. UCC receives between 20 and 30 bodies a year and is one of five medical schools — along with the National University of Ireland Galway, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin — that take anatomical donations. In 2019, the five schools received a total of 117 bodies. This dropped to 38 in 2020 because of the pandemic.' 'We were closed to donations from March to August 2020' explains Professor Aideen Sullivan. 

Professor Aideen Sullivan Head of Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience (Photograph B.Riedewald)

Professor of Anatomy John F. Cryan describes how 'most bodies are used for teaching purposes and the generous act of body donation is vital to the study of human anatomy' and explains how the 'the donor’s body is a lens through which to teach the organisational structure of life' and how 'the Medical Council regulates anatomical donation in Ireland' 'a long and important tradition conducted under the Anatomy Act 1832, which regularised practices in the public interest almost 200 years ago.'

Professor Cryan describes how 'UCC has seen a rise in body donations, particularly since eight years ago when it started holding Thanksgiving Ceremonies every second year to acknowledge the donor’s gift and to thank and bring closure for families'. He describes the Thanksgiving Ceremony as 'an ecumenical service, we do it after we’ve released the body back to the family. It’s driven by celebration, poetry, song, literature. Our students take ownership of it. They get to see the families, and the families see who the gift has benefitted.'

Read the full Irish Examiner article 8th June 2021 here:

Also see Irish Examiner Saturday 26th December 2020


Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience links

Department website:

Donation Programme:

Thanksgiving Ceremonies:

Commissioned sculpture 'Flame' by Alexandara Wejchert:


Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience

Anatamaíocht agus Néareolaíocht

Room 2.33, 2nd Floor, Western Gateway Building, University College, Cork, Ireland