Five Reasons to Donate Your Body to Science
Although the option to donate your body to science instead of having it buried or cremated has been around for decades, it’s an option many people have a hard time considering. After all, when your body becomes a learning tool for the next generation of doctors and scientists, you are unable to hold a traditional burial.
Still, thousands of people every year make this choice—and many families are happy to see their loved one’s physical body become a valuable part of modern research. Here are five reasons why.
- There are virtually no burial costs. It might not be the most noble reason out there, but most body donations come with a zero dollar price tag. You coordinate with the donation team (at a medical school, body donation program, or other facility), and they usually handle most of the costs associated with transportation and the body’s final disposal. (Note, though, that you may still have to pay a funeral home a fee if you arrange the donation through them.)
- Body donation is one of the easiest green funeral options out there. Holding a “green funeral” is a way of reducing your carbon footprint even after you’re gone. A traditional funeral puts metal, hardwoods, and concrete into the ground, and also uses non-earth-friendly resources like funeral flowers shipped from overseas and embalming fluids. Donating a body to science is the ultimate act of recycling.
- It’s a good alternative to donating your organs. A large percentage of us have the “organ donor” box checked on our ID or have told our families that we’d like our organs to continue providing life, should the situation arise. In reality, organ donation is rare. Because donating organs usually requires that the deceased be in good health and die of a head injury, the chances of it happening to you are small. Donating your entire body to science, however, is much less restrictive—and often just as beneficial.
- You may get a cremation out of the deal. Every body donation organization operates differently, but many of them provide you with the ashes of your loved one once the studies are done. You rarely pay for this service, and you still get the benefits of being able to discard the ashes however you wish.
- All bodies are treated with respect and reverence. The medical students and scientists who work on the donated bodies know what kind of a gift it is to be able to study on actual human beings who were mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers, or sisters. From the moment you make the decision to donate until the day you get the ashes returned to you (or the body’s remains are disposed of and kept by the donation company), the deceased is treated with the respect that all of us would want to see for our loved ones.
Body donation isn’t for everyone, but it is a viable funeral option for many families and individuals. To learn more about donating your body to science, visit the medical examiner’s website or offices for your city. County resources can direct you toward the organizations in your area and provide additional resources for this process.
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By Amy Johnson