Anatomical Donation: A Personal Perspective

It’s outside most people’s comfort zones to consider their own mortality. There’s one related decision you can make, however, that can make that uncomfortable contemplation quite satisfying.

Donate your body to science, and it can be your final public service. As a bonus, Coleman Funeral Home will provide a free memorial service.

My parents decided to sign up for the University of Mississippi School of Medicine’s Anatomical Donation Program. Mama, known to others as Sarah Lou Castens, made her decision when I was at University Medical Center after a serious accident in 1978. Even then there was more need than supply for bodies for medical students to study. She talked it over with people she trusted and then made her wishes known in writing and face-to-face. Daddy, aka Lynn Castens, agreed with Mama’s reasoning and made similar arrangements.


The University of Mississippi Medical School uses donated bodies to train the next generation of healthcare professionals.
The University of Mississippi School of Medicine uses donated bodies to educate the next generation of healthcare professionals about human anatomy.


Both my parents lived many more years, and both spent their last days at home with my wife and me. The evening Daddy died, our wait for the UMC transport van driver afforded us a pause for relief and reflection. For those two or three hours, my wife and son and I sat around the kitchen table with Daddy’s hospice nurse and our coroner, Rocky Kennedy. I told stories about Daddy, and we made a toast with a bottle of wine I’d been given years before. It was a genuinely comforting time.

Without burial-related time constraints, memorials for my parents could be held on weekends when it was convenient for faraway friends and relatives. When the medical school was done with their bodies, cremated remains were returned to me so Mama and Daddy could be buried in the rural churchyard in which six generations of our family are laid to rest. (If you prefer, your remains can be buried during a memorial ceremony on the UMC campus.)

It’s Our Honor

As a physician, Coleman Funeral Home co-owner Tom Fowlkes knows the value of anatomical donations to medical education. That’s why Coleman Funeral Home will provide a memorial service for any resident of Lafayette County or DeSoto County who donates his or her body to the University of Mississippi School of Medicine. It would be our honor to furnish the venue (and the menu) for your visitation and memorial service at either our Oxford or Olive Branch location, and to help you or your family plan the service, write your obituary and handle scores of other details – all without charge.

Helping train the next generation of medical professionals is a worthy public service that costs the donor nothing. If you want to consider it, call UMC for details at 601-984-1649 or visit

If you decide to donate your body, send a copy of your confirmation letter from UMC to Coleman Funeral Home, 601 Commerce Parkway, Oxford, MS 38655, and we’ll confirm in writing that you’re registered for our services.