echoes of first year

Dec 31, 2021

Nouran Ibrahim MD’25

As I stand to the side as groups of students huddle around my cadaver as if she was a spectacle to observe one of her ‘cool’ structures my group was able to isolate, I cannot help but feel a bit defensive. Over the past month, my group members and I have been able to form this strange, but tangible bond to our cadaver. We know all of her bits and pieces: the unique way in which her vasculature branches, the unforgettable curvature of her small, fragile bones, and so much more; it feels wrong to watch others come to simply view and play with one of her parts as if she was part of an exhibit in a museum. Could this possibly be what she had wanted? I am not sure and I will never know. All I know is that the greatest thing I could do is appreciate this moment, and remember to stay grateful for her generosity whenever I start to feel frustrated that I cannot find a particular structure, or remember the name of something as I pull and tag at it irritably, losing mindfulness of what it is I am flopping around.

That is a nerve, Nouran.  That is literally one of the things allowing you to stand and finish this lab. We are part of a very small population of people who have been granted such intimate access to an experience so…. human (?) I often question how human it is to have such unfettered access to something that was once so alive… so like me at this moment.

 Once upon a time, I had thought Anatomy lab would be my least favorite experience of medical school. It is. And that fact, can’t come to me now without some feelings of guilt. How could I dislike such a privilege? How could I dislike feeling the fragility of life at my fingertips? Maybe that is what it is. The constant reminder of how delicate it all is is frightening, and at the very least, disorienting. I wish I could tell you I might one day make the same selfless sacrifice my cadaver made to have her body dedicated to a greater purpose; but I am too scared to admit I can’t, even as someone who has been privileged enough to have this experience. How strong was my donor to have made this decision? I wish I could meet her and ask her what she was thinking. I wish I could meet her and ask her to share some of her courage with me.

Nouran Ibrahim

Nouran Ibrahim

Brown Medical School - Class of 2025


Nouran Ibrahim is an MS1 from New York. She was born in Egypt, and raised in Brooklyn. At Princeton University where she completed her undergraduate studies, she wrote for the student newspaper, the Daily Princetonian. She hopes to always keep writing an integral part of her life,
and hopes to someday become a major contributor for the NY Times.