Whole Body Donation as a Part of End of Life Planning

Some give their body to science in the interest of medical progress. For others it is a green decision which also avoids a financial burden on loved ones.

Body Donation vs Monumental Expenses – msp (http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/705695)

As adults age they sometimes wonder how to leave a legacy with the economy draining savings and the cost of living eating up every available penny. Donating your body to science may be one answer. Like all end of life intentions, planning makes honoring your wishes actually possible. Good financial planning might just unite one’s efforts to leave a positive imprint on the future of medical science and its ability to help those in need of medical intervention.

Attitudes About Body Donations

In an ongoing online poll asking if people would donate their body, 60% say they would with approximately 20% saying no and 20% saying maybe. Although there may be a selection factor operating in the specific population of online readers who search for subjects similar to donating your body to science, the results may point to an increasing consideration of the idea as a valid option. (Since this poll is live, results show only after a person votes.)

Advantages of Donating Your Body to Science

The comfort of being assured you are not burdening loved ones with excessive funeral or other end of life financial burdens.
Even families who have plenty of funds for funeral expenses may find gratification in spending the money where it can affect the future (a grandchild’s education, a much-loved charity, etc.)
Loved ones knowing they are honoring the wishes of the departed.
An opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for medical education and research by helping doctors find improved medical treatments.
Continued contribution to the world after one’s death.
For those who aspire to simple living, an extension of that concept into simple dying.
The opportunity, albeit possibly delayed by months or a couple of years, for the loved ones to still receive the cremains after final cremation.
The possibility of donating one’s eyes, donating the body to science, yet still receiving a free cremation.
A chance for the loved ones to have time to process their grief for some time before dealing with the cremated remains of the departed.

Where to Find Anatomical Donor Programs in the United States

There are whole body donor programs all over the U.S. which can give information about how to plan and apply for donating your body to science. There are even some run by independent companies. Others may be run by particular states, e.g. Virginia’s State Anatomical Program. A provider called Advanced Med calls it a “gift to further research improving research and education. . . because you care.” Some states and medical centers use the term “willed body programs” and there are even programs for donating a pet’s body for research purposes.

When a Body Cannot Be Donated

There are cases where a body cannot be donated to science:

Organ donors can’t have it both ways. They must choose either body donation or organ donation. However, body donors can donate their eyes.
People with extreme obesity.
When death was caused by a crushing injury.
If an autopsy has been performed.
In cases of a highly contagious disease, e.g. AIDS, hepatitis, sepsis, etc.

These people may wish to consider being an organ donor, being sure to have it indicated on their driver’s license.

However, in the case of body donation, an ID card can be carried – preferably stored close to the driver’s license for easy retrieval. David Hoodiman of Florida’s University of Miami Anatomical Department says they issue special Identification Cards to be carried. He also urges close communication with family about such plans.

End of life planning requires completion of paperwork as well as clear and thorough communication with loved ones. Express your wishes both orally and in writing, taking the time to talk it through with people who may be left behind with both grief and decisions staring them in the face. This time is well spent since it may offer your loved ones the comfort of knowing they are honoring your well thought out wishes. This may be a good time to look into donating your body to science.

Copyright Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.


About grantutor

Career educator in both public and private schools. Has tutored all ages. Writes about education, parenting, & seniors. Sings harmony with folk/rock group and a choir. Caregiver for spouse who dealt with Stage IV cancer. Happy person committed to nature and conservation of a green world.
This entry was posted in Grief Tearbook, Savor Our Seniors to Grow Bold Along With Me – The Rest is Yet to Come and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s