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Home Our Missions Mission of Education The Making of a Tzu Chi Surgeon - Retrospect—end of day 4

The Making of a Tzu Chi Surgeon - Retrospect—end of day 4

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Article Index
The Making of a Tzu Chi Surgeon
A Tzu Chi exclusive
simulated surgery training course: days 1 and 2
A cadaver’s busy new life: days 3 and 4
Retrospect—end of day 4
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Retrospect—end of day 4
The course ended late in the afternoon of the fourth day. The silent mentors had each received countless cuts and helped each participant, whether student or instructor, improve either their surgical skills or their compassion—or most likely both—to higher levels.

With such newly acquired capabilities under their belts, participating interns carefully and respectfully—clearly the only prevailing attitude all throughout the course—sutured each silent mentor back into a whole person again, much as it had been at the outset of the program. This step, like all the preceding steps, is important in cultivating the students’ respect and love for the mentors, which, by extension, spills over to their future patients.

Professor Wang Yue-ran (王曰然), head of the Department of Anatomy at Tzu Chi Medical School, then checked each table’s work in detail, making sure that each silent mentor had been restored appropriately. With Wang’s final nod of approval, the surgeons and students clothed their mentor all in white: thermal underwear, socks, gloves, and a long gown. Then they covered each mentor with a Buddhist blanket for the dead and gently lowered him/her into a casket.

Several people shared their thoughts. Chen Meng-fang (沈孟芳), an intern, said to her mentor, “Teacher, I worked really hard on you the last few days. I hope I didn’t let you down. The gratitude I have for you will help propel me forward on this long and arduous path to becoming a competent and caring doctor.”

Dr. Fauziad Fardiza, a 6th-year ENT resident physician at Cipto Mangunkusumo Central Hospital, Jakarta, said that he had never performed any operation like this, which he cherished dearly. “I am grateful to the mentor for his donation and to his family for their consent to carry out the mentor’s wishes [to donate].”

Intern Lin Zhong-qing (林忠青) said that he and his mother had signed body donation cards when he was a fourth-year medical student. Dr. Yang Qiu-fen (楊秋芬), also an intern, told the gathering, “When I die, I want first to donate my organs for transplants. Failing that, I want to donate my whole body for medical education.”

Dr. Zeng Guo-fan, director of the Medical Simulation Center, echoed their sentiments: “I’ve been teaching anatomy all my life, all with my mouth. However, in my final anatomy class, I’ll be teaching with my own body. I’ve told my family, relatives, and friends about my wish. I want them to understand and honor it. I hope that when I die, one of them will call the center for me and effect the donation because by then I won’t be able to make the call myself.” (Editor’s note: It is not uncommon for the family to have second thoughts after the death of the donor. Many planned donations have fallen through as a result.)

“I must keep up my regular workouts lest the future students who operate on my body complain that I have too much fat,” Dr. Zeng joked. And that is certainly a new incentive to stay on a fitness regimen.

Mission completed
The eight silent mentors were cremated the morning after the four-day program. In a solemn ceremony in a light drizzle, the program participants accompanied the family members to lay the silent mentors to rest.

Huang Xiu-hou (黃秀后) thanked her husband, Lin Guo-jin (林國津), one of the silent mentors. “Though you are gone, you have given me two new physician daughters and one physician son through your body donation. Thank you.” Dr. Chen Fu-ming of Cleveland said to the gathering, “The silent mentors have taught me the true essence of giving.” Intern Chen Yong-zhi (陳永誌) said, “I started the course dreading even the most basic incisions. It was only through my silent mentor that I now feel quite comfortable with my scalpels.”

The photos and ashes of the great teachers were placed in the Hall of Great Giving, in the same building as the Medical Simulation Center, for all to view and pay their respects to. The silent mentors have indeed set valuable examples for all to follow.

By Chen Mei-yi
Translated by Tang Yau-yang
Photos by Hsiao Yiu-Hwa
Tzu Chi Quarterly Spring 2009


 

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