Silent Mentors’ donate their bodies to medical science
“I voluntarily donate my body for the good of others.” – This is the great wish of an i.Silent Mentor, who is described as a good person who holds good thoughts and does good deeds for the public good, with no borders.
The Silent Mentor programme was introduced by Professor Dr Chin Kin Fah, chairman and founding director of the Academy for Silent Mentor in Malaysia, on March 23, 2012. This programme encourages donors to donate their bodies after death.
Donors have selflessly donated their bodies for the advancement of medical research, education and training, motivated by love for mankind.
The technology of rapid freezing, followed by a surgical dissection model that is comparable to operating on a live human being, provides an opportunity for realistic surgical training without risk to the patient.
The Silent Mentor programme is not solely a medical programme as it is underpinned by empathy teaching. This benefits the participants, primarily medical students, in learning soft skills in a holistic environment. It also supports their quest to be better doctors of tomorrow.
On July 29, I attended an Appreciation and Initiation ceremony for my beloved late sister, Jaclyn Lim Chooi Li, who had signed up to be an i.Silent Mentor. On that day, it had been exactly 383 days since my sixth sister left the family to mourn our loss. It was surreal yet profoundly emotional to be able to see her physical body again. Her body had undergone embalmment for a period of one year and was undergoing deep freezing for treatment.
Since she left us, not a day goes by without all of us missing her deeply. She will always be cherished by her loved ones who include her mum, remaining six sisters, her son Bryan and all her nieces and nephews who regarded her as their “coolest aunt”.
Jaclyn was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. After intense treatment, including mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy and radiation, she recovered and was in remission for eight years.
Unfortunately, life continues to throw us “curveballs” when we least expect it. She suffered a relapse with bone cancer, followed by the devastating news that the cancer had metastasised to her liver, and then stomach and lungs. We lost her on July 10 last year despite her courageous battle against the disease with numerous surgeries and aggressive chemotherapy sessions for the six months before that.
Being a generous and compassionate person, Jaclyn had pledged to be an organ donor while she was alive. However, as a cancer survivor, her desire to be an organ donor could no longer be fulfilled. As such, when Prof Dr Chin approached her to participate in the Silent Mentor programme, she did not hesitate to sign up. She realised this was an alternative way for her to continue to do good with her life and body.
Regardless of the race or religious beliefs of Silent Mentors, the teachers, all students and the Academy for Silent Mentor pay them the utmost gratitude, respect and love. Not only do the Silent Mentors pledge to donate their bodies, they also share their life stories that become a teaching tool for liberal arts and humanities educational programmes.
Upon signing the pledge on the Pledge Stone, they reaffirm the core values of an i.Silent Mentor: truth, goodness and beauty.
It was on the long train journey along the scenic East coast of Scotland that Prof Dr Chin felt the grace of God descend upon him. He was travelling back from an interview for admission into the medical school at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. At that precise moment, he realised he was on the path to becoming a doctor to look after the living. However, never did he imagine that he would also care for the dead.
UTAR’s MBBS students, who organised the Appreciation and Initiation ceremony, shared their thoughts regarding Jaclyn and the Silent Mentor programme:
> “What makes the programme unique is the character portrayed by the Silent Mentor. Compassion, empathy, love, self-sacrifice and the caring heart were the qualities the Silent Mentor has shown to his or her family members, relatives, friends and the public throughout their lifetime.”
> “Medical students can learn a lot from the Silent Mentor through their life history and the qualities they possess that (also) reflect the character of a good medical doctor.”
> “Donating our bodies is most joyful. Learning that our families and loved ones would always be proud of who we were, we never really die.”
> “The action of donating our bodies is subtle but never silent. It preaches to the children to be selfless; it reminds the living to be dauntless; and it teaches the students to be humble.”
> “While we live, our body is of use to us. After we have passed away, it can be of even greater use by teaching doctors to save lives.”
> “Silent Mentors may not speak anymore, but their words will always resound.”
Hearing the above words from the medical students themselves, made me feel extremely proud of Jaclyn. We will always remember her for her selflessness, generosity and courage. She is clearly an unsung hero.