Saturday, September 19

‘i-Silent Mentor Programme vital for medical students’


Dr Chin (left) presents a memento to Dr Sim. Fadzil is seen at right. — Photo by Tan Song Wei

KUCHING: Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian believes the i-Silent Mentor Programme will provide hands-on experience to medical students.

The programme is to encourage individuals to pledge themselves as silent mentors, who consent to donate their bodies upon death for the advancement of medical education.

“In the past, learning anatomy for medical students was a torture. Perhaps not so much a torture but there were not enough bodies and we had to fight to get hands-on experience.

“The programme offers an experience (for medical students) to do something which later on is required of you at work, which you cannot afford to make mistakes,” he said when launching the programme at Pullman Hotel here yesterday.

Dr Sim said medical students thought a lot about the cadaver but nobody could tell them ‘who’ the cadaver used to be.

He added the story behind the cadaver would remain a mystery and would just be ‘the body’ in the morgue which was neither remembered nor appreciated.

“How are we going to truly respect the body when we do not know who the person was in his or her lifetime? But i-Silent Mentor Programme allows us to respect and honour them.

“I am glad that the programme will give a new breath in creating a holistic caregiver – a caring, empathic and a wise one. The silent mentor will be mentoring the students, not only in terms of medical sciences but, most importantly, sharing their life stories as a tool for philosophical and humanity education.

“The life story of the silent mentors will not end at the end of their life, but will be learned, remembered and treasured together with the involvement of close family members,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, chairman of Academy for Silent Mentor Prof Dr Chin Kin Fah said family members of body donors have to inform the academy within eight hours of death.

He said the academy would activate its volunteers to receive the body and deliver it to the centre where the body would be preserved in a deep freezer.

According to Dr Chin, the centre will come with a hall for family members, relatives and friends to pay their last respects.

“Regardless of their religion… if they are Buddhists, they can do the chanting; if they are Christians, they can have prayer and memorial services.

“They can do (for) as many days as they want because we have the facility for them to do so.”

He pointed out that a deep freezer, which costs RM150,000 and can house three silent mentors, would preserve the body at a temperature of -30 C, which would “keep the body in a very good condition for a long as we want.”

Also present during the launching was Universiti Malaysia Sarawak deputy vice-chancellor (Student Affairs and Alumni) Prof Mohd Fadzil Abdul Rahman.