Certain conditions preclude donation, e.g., contagious diseases such as hepatitis and AIDS. Some programs will not accept extremely obese cadavers.
Timing might make a difference, too, since some organizations specify "no embalming" -- in other words, the cadaver must be refrigerated and shipped as soon as one hour after death. If seeing you one last time is important to family members, choose a company that allows enough time for viewings.
It's important to note that you may not be able to dictate how your body will be used, as in the following circumstances:
- A whole-body donation company may sell to private-sector researchers or companies that design new medical devices.
- A company may use body parts in on-site physician training facilities.
- Some send cadavers to medical schools in countries where whole-body donation goes against cultural mores.
If these examples trouble you, you might want to donate only to a medical school. This will likely cost money, although probably still less than a funeral.
Plan your approach
Should you decide to donate, research the options and make the arrangements yourself. A nebulous "please donate my body to science" request isn't fair to your loved ones. When you die they'll be shocked and grieving; don't make them look up the different programs and try to figure out what you would have wanted.
Talk to your family about it now, and don't be surprised if you encounter objections. Listen to them. It will be easier to answer such concerns if you've read the FAQ sections of med school or donation company websites. Remember: Their feelings are valid, even though ultimately it is your decision.
Unless, of course, your next of kin ignores your request and arranges a funeral. If you think this could happen, put your final wishes in writing and get them witnessed and notarized. Store the document with other "in the event of my death" paperwork, and maybe leave copies with a family member you trust to carry out your decision.
Incidentally, this can go the other way: Your next of kin can donate your body to science without your consent. If that skeeves you out, make your wishes known quite emphatically. Myself, I'd put it in writing. I'd also threaten to come back and haunt whoever did the donating.
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I like her statement in this article that reads, "Why is organ donation lauded while donating a body gives us the heebie-jeebies?". This is something I've often wondered myself. I work for MedCure which is a national whole body donation program that matches donors to the needs of medical research and education (medcure.org) When people ask what I do, most are intrigued and supportive and others that are a bit taken back - I think mainly because this is something that doesn't come up very much or something people don't give much thought to. But how do people think medical innovation happens?
Body donors are a huge contribution to surgeons in learning/practicing the latest minimally invasive surgical techniques, paramedics can learn/practice life saving measures, studying diseases and finding cures for what ails us. It's all voluntary but personally, I am VERY GRATEFUL that people donate - whether we choose to volunteer our own bodies for the purpose of medical science we can at least agree that we'd rather our doctor receives their "practice" on someone they cannot hurt before "practicing" on the living.
Great article on whole body donation. I actually work for the country's first accredited program, Science Care. We get the honor of helping our donors contribute to some pretty incredible medical education and research projects, like cancer research through the National Cancer Institute, Alzheimer's research using cerebrospinal fluid, and training tens of thousands of doctors and surgeons every year on the latest in medical advancements.
Ms. Freedman really has it right--altruism is the main reason why people donate. If you want to see some stories of why people choose to donate, feel free to visit our website or Facebook page, where we post many of these.
i had donated my body to ohio state universary and then i started hearing rumors that the universities had more bodies than they need and they were selling what they didn't need to other people who needed cadavares to use for their research. like car companies that want to see what a crash does to a body, some of the things that they were using them for ,i just didn't agree with. i advise anyone who is concidering this option to research it on the web.
finally i chose a quick cremation and scattering my ashes i am donating all of my body that they can take but the things that they were doing to those corpses , i just didn't agree with.
Just don't be a chubby. "Donating your body to science? Nobody wants a chubby corpse"
Google that title.
Can't we just die with some dignity. I wouldn't want anyone
doing as they may with my body, and putting it on display,
dead or alive.............
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