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‘Final gift’: FGCU forensic program needs body donation

LEE COUNTY, Fla. – Brian Johnson cherishes the time his sons spend with their father, Paul. He just wished they had more of that.

“He was just the best grandpa,” Johnson told NBC2. “My oldest and he just have this… just a special relationship. And I really wish it could last longer.”

Paul Johnson died two years ago at the age of 62. He was not only a grandfather but also a lawyer. He’s stubborn, but in a legitimate way, Johnson said. He also has a distinct sense of humour.

“He used to say he wanted to be cremated so we could sprinkle his ashes on people he didn’t like,” Johnson laughs and recalls.

Obviously, that didn’t happen. But after Paul passed away, his family decided to do anything else different: they donated his body to science.

He is currently in the care of Dr. Heather Walsh-Haney and the Forensic Studies program at Florida Gulf Coast University.

“First and foremost, I am teaching my students how important the human condition is – through life and death,” Walsh-Haney explained to NBC2.

The program at FGCU has been accepting body donations for more than a decade now. It provides hands-on learning for students, from the field where the body is buried to the laboratory where the bones are studied.

“Here, they read it in a book. I talk about it. They’re working on a skeleton and really learning what it is. And it affects their lives,” says Walsh-Haney.

Research Impacts is different life, too. Walsh-Haney is relied upon to respond to mass casualties and testify in murders, among other real-life situations.

Walsh-Haney explains: “By bringing in sponsors, it helps me maintain a high level – of academic and scientific integrity, to which I have access to the courtroom.

But the far-reaching impact of COVID-19 is even affecting this program. Body donation is down since the beginning of the pandemic, Walsh-Haney said.

“We have reduced the number of private human remains,” she explains. “I think it’s largely because the law is giving families discretionary money to pay for the funeral they want.”

Walsh-Haney understands that donating a body is an important decision for a person or their family – one she doesn’t take lightly.

“If you want to respect the earth, respect the needs of your family, and you want to be able to reciprocate — give the ultimate gift — is give,” she says.

Johnson found out about this program because he worked in the same Building as Walsh-Haney. He is a professor of mathematics at FGCU.

“I have absolutely no reservations about it,” he said. “(My father) likes things that are just a little different, you know,”

Walsh-Haney even knew Paul Johnson, making her even more grateful for his unique gift.

“To learn that Brian and his siblings and his family have allowed his father to participate in this FGCU academy, and for my students to study, has been amazing,” she said. speak.

“I think I taught the classes below the lab up there,” said Brian with a laugh. “I can come say hello if I want.”

If you or your family would like to learn more about the body donation program at FGCU, click here for contact information.

https://nbc-2.com/news/local/2022/02/11/the-ultimate-gift-fgcu-forensic-program-in-need-of-body-donations/ ‘Final gift’: FGCU forensic program needs body donation

Tom Vazquez

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