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Leave a Legacy of Medical Education: How to Donate Your Body to Science

FlourishAnyway is an Industrial/Organizational psychologist committed to uplifting and educating others to be reach their full potential.

Even in Death, You Can Serve Life

After you no longer have use for your body, medical schools, tissue banks, and others can use your cadaver to teach and improve the lives of the living.

After you no longer have use for your body, medical schools, tissue banks, and others can use your cadaver to teach and improve the lives of the living.

What Are Your Plans?

Long after your spirit vacates your body, will you be resting comfortably six feet under? Adorning the family mantel in an urn full of ashes? Or perhaps your cadaver will still be working, giving back to science?

After your soul has "left the building," the body you now inhabit can help to

  • educate
  • heal
  • beautify and
  • improve the lives of those left behind.

Before you say "yuck," take a closer look at the process of donating your body to science. Then decide for yourself if it's right for you.

"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.

And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make ways for the new."

— Steve Jobs, co-founder & former CEO of Apple, Inc.

Save relatives the trouble of a big funeral.  Donate your body to medical science and be remembered positively as someone who generously gave even after death.

Save relatives the trouble of a big funeral. Donate your body to medical science and be remembered positively as someone who generously gave even after death.

Valuable Real Estate: Will You Be Taking It with You?

Currently, you occupy important living, breathing real estate. The average human body contains

  • 206 bones
  • about 22 square feet of skin (2 square meters) 1
  • 78 organs -- including two kidneys, lungs, and corneas, and a brain that weighs about 3 pounds (a bit less than 1.5 kg), plus
  • 650 muscles and
  • collagen-rich tendons, ligaments, cartilage, joints, and other connective tissue.

So will you be taking these with you? Will you have use for them after you've eternally "gone home?"

Read the Fine Print

Those valuable parts and the vessel that houses them—has the power to make a blind man see, a lame man walk, and to transform a medical student into a highly skilled surgeon. But as with most real estate deals, it's important to read the fine print.

Advancing Science: One Donated Body at a Time

From whole body donation to donating your corneas, science can benefit from your gift.

From whole body donation to donating your corneas, science can benefit from your gift.

Who Wants Your Body After You're Done Using It?

Although you have little use for your deceased body, many others do have a need—some more legitimate than others. Who are these people? And why do they do want cadavers?

Choose What's Right for You

Bones, skin, organs, muscles and more -- your body is useful to science after you die.

Bones, skin, organs, muscles and more -- your body is useful to science after you die.

You're More Valuable Than You Think

Each year approximately 20,000 Americans donate their bodies to science (or their next-of-kin does it for them.)2 Most are motivated by altruism, although some are pragmatists who wish to forgo burial and cremation costs.

Many university medical schools run whole body donation programs for use in training tomorrow's doctors. However, even these educational institutions occasionally experience surpluses or deficits. That's when they turn to for-profit institutions for assistance.

American medical schools compete for body donations against both

  1. non-profit tissue banks and
  2. as many as 30 American "body broker" firms. These body brokers are legal, entrepreneurial businesses. They are profit-making firms that connect donated human corpses to those who might benefit.

For the organizations involved with body donations, benefits can be both scientific and financial. Routinely, non-profit tissue banks harvest bodies and their parts and send the donated human tissues to private, for-profit firms. Such non-profit tissue banks have been criticized for paying their executives annual salaries of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Regardless of whether non-profit or for-profit middlemen supply them, cadavers or their parts typically end up with

  • pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies,
  • private medical and surgical training organizations
  • medical schools, and
  • military and government organizations.3

Unfortunately, a donor usually has no say in how their corpse will be used or who the final user will be. If someone guarantees you otherwise, read the fine print and ask questions. Treat body donation with the same caution that you would use when making any large contribution.

Before surgeons ever touch live patients, they learn to dissect dead ones.

Before surgeons ever touch live patients, they learn to dissect dead ones.

What Prompted My Interest

My interest in body donation evolved after several events.

  • My father—who is still alive and kicking, thank you—has expressed the desire to donate his remains to science. He included it in his will but hasn't made specific arrangements. Does it matter where you donate your body to? Where does one start? What do you need to know now?
  • After several failed cataract operations, my mother received a sight-preserving cornea transplant, compliments of a cadaver. (Her letter to the donor's family appears at the end of this article.)
  • Similarly, during dental surgery, I received bone grafting from a cadaver. Knowing that you have directly benefitted from someone else's donation is humbling. It also creates questions.
  • I also live with Multiple Sclerosis, an incurable and uniquely human disease for which there is no true animal model. I want to help others who struggle with the disease. But yet there are also questions about whether anatomical donation is the right choice for me. Can I guarantee my deceased body will be used in the way I want? Should it matter?
  • You should also know that after I wrote this article, my uncle donated his body to science. His donated body was sent from Virginia to a medical school in Rhode Island, and his cremated remains were back within mere months.

Stripped for Parts

Stripped for its parts and sold off piecemeal, your body may be worth as much as $250,000 to the for-profit tissue bank industry.  You donate, they turn a profit.

Stripped for its parts and sold off piecemeal, your body may be worth as much as $250,000 to the for-profit tissue bank industry. You donate, they turn a profit.

Isn't Buying and Selling Bodies Illegal?

The cadaver is one case in which the whole is not worth more than the sum of its parts. It is not uncommon for a corpse's head, torso, limbs and other parts to be split up and used for different purposes.

Stripped for its parts, a deceased body may be worth as much as $250,000.4 The result is that America's tissue bank industry is $1 billion strong. (Some tissue banking companies even do business on the New York Stock Exchange.) What thus began as a selfless donation to science often ends up as a lucrative "medical device."

Here's the Loophole

While U.S. law prohibits buying and selling human tissues, an important loophole permits both non-profit and for-profit middlemen to charge inflated service fees for retrieving, transporting, preserving, and storing human remains. Although the donor's family doesn't pay these fees, donors are typically unaware that they will be fueling a booming business with their earthly remains.5

As a result of these ethical concerns, the industry is frequently criticized as "parts dealing" in everything but the name.6 And unlike the organ transplant industry, tissue and whole body brokers enjoy limited monitoring, government regulation, or oversight.

Most whole body donations are made by people for altruistic rather than pragmatic reasons.  Communicate your choice and reasoning with your next of kin.

Most whole body donations are made by people for altruistic rather than pragmatic reasons. Communicate your choice and reasoning with your next of kin.

Uses For Donated Bodies and Their Parts: The Gift Of Life?

Whereas donors and families assume they are providing a gift of life, that may not always be the case. There are a variety of uses for both whole cadavers and their parts. Cadavers may even be shipped overseas, as some other countries have stronger cultural taboos and restrictions against anatomical donations.

Anatomical Gifts: Useful Donations That Help the Living

There is often no upper age limit for donating your body to science.

There is often no upper age limit for donating your body to science.

Here Are Examples of How Donated Cadavers Are Used:

Here's How Your Body Could Be Used

Skin grafts facilitate healing in burn and wound patients.

Sheets of freeze-dried human collagen is used to bulk up penises, while collagen injections smooth out wrinkles.

Bone putty -- produced from finely ground human bone -- is routinely used in spinal or dental surgery.

Government agencies and auto-makers use cadavers to test vehicle safety.

Cadaver dissection is a rite of passage in medical schools, where they are used to teach anatomy to first-year medical students.

Body parts have even been used in crucifixion experiments to evaluate the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin.

Medical training companies use body parts for ongoing education of surgeons, nurses, and allied health professionals (e.g., EMTs).

Forensic anthropologists and other scientists use "body farms" to study the effects of different environments on body decomposition (e.g., flesh-eating insects, various weather conditions).

Criminologists may recreate crime scenes using test corpses.

The military assesses protective gear by exploding bodies with landmines.

Body parts are preserved as medical lab specimens.

Plasticized body parts have been used for public health education displays, as in Gunther von Hagens' Body Worlds.

One Person's Perspective: Why I'm Donating My Body to Science

What's a Good Cadaver?

As useful as cadavers are, many people are surprised to hear that not all body donations are accepted. Learning that your own or a loved one's body is not wanted can create a sense of deep personal rejection.

Always have a back-up plan regarding your remains in case your donation is not suitable for science. Requirements vary from one program to another, but common reasons for rejection include:

  • obesity or large size. Body donation programs frequently set height and weight limits (e.g., under 6'4" and 300 pounds).8 This is because embalming can easily add up to 100 pounds to the corpse's weight. Technicians find it difficult to lift and maneuver large bodies, and large corpses may not fit well on the metal storage trays.
  • infection with HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis, MRSA, C-difficile, or Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease
  • organ donation (other than eyes), amputation, autopsy, decomposition, or previous embalming and
  • death due to suicide or homicide, or extensive trauma at the time of death.

If your program of choice rejects you, you can always "shop around."

Reader Poll

National Geographic Presents: Secrets Of the Body Farm

Differences Between Organ and Tissue Donation

DifferenceOrgan DonationTissue Donation

When harvested

After brain death but before the heart stops beating

Can be harvested after heart stops beating

Number of living persons who can be helped by one donor

8

50

Existence of industry regulations, monitoring, and oversight

Highly regulated with tracking and monitoring requirements

Loosely regulated with no required tracking, limited monitoring, and virtually no enforcement

Whom it primarily helps

Directly helps organ recipients

Directly helps researchers, scientists, and medical professionals. Also, patients who receive medical products derived from the donated body

Estimated size of industry (in dollars)

$20 billion

$1 billion

Who Can Donate

Under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA), donors who are at least 18 years old and competent to make the decision may gift all or part of their bodies to science. They make their wishes known through a will or a wallet donor card.

It is up to the deceased person's next-of-kin to ensure that their wishes are carried out. Alternatively, the donor's next-of-kin may make the donation in their behalf.

Deciding What To Donate

Donors may elect to bequeath

  • their entire body (called "willed body donation") or
  • specific portions of the body -- just their corneas, for example. Patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and MS may have a particular interest in donating their brains, spinal cords and a sample of their cerebrospinal fluid to a Brain Bank. Their generosity can facilitate the cure for others that evaded them in life.9
People with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's  often choose to leave their brains to Brain Banks.

People with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's often choose to leave their brains to Brain Banks.

Steps For Donating Your Body To Science

  1. Make a personal decision to donate. Choose what's right for you.
  2. Determine what you will donate -- whole body or specific parts (e.g., cornea, brain).
  3. Find a recipient organization to receive your bequest (e.g., medical or mortuary school, non-profit tissue bank, or for-profit company). Fully understand any costs, their method of disposing of remains, and how your corpse may be used.
  4. Fill out their registration package, and notify your next of kin regarding your wishes.
  5. Put the bequest in your will. Carry the wallet card with you at all times.
  6. Develop and share an alternate plan in case your body is rejected at the time of death.

The Devil's In the Details

If you have made the decision to donate your tissues, you can save your loved ones confusion and duress by pre-selecting the organization to receive your donation.

Do Your Research

Investigate the details of your donation, including

  • how your religion views body donation (if religion is important to you)
  • the timing and method for body disposal once your cadaver has made its contribution to science. It is not uncommon to return cremated remains to a donor's next-of-kin. Medical schools often offer memorial services at the end of the academic year, with students, faculty and next-of-kin in attendance.
  • the total cost of your donation, including fees for transporting your body to the receiving facility, obtaining a death certificate, newspaper obituaries, embalming, cremation and shipping your cremated remains back to your family

It is also important to register with the organization that will be receiving your remains. Discuss your decisions with your family so they won't be surprised when they need to execute your wishes. Consider also sharing your rationale and back-up plan in case your body is not suitable for donation at the time of death.

And then go live the rest of your life. Appreciate the life you have before you earn your halo.

Promoted To Glory

There are hundreds of euphemisms associated with death and dying.  Many have a touch of inspiration or humor to them.  What are your favorites?

There are hundreds of euphemisms associated with death and dying. Many have a touch of inspiration or humor to them. What are your favorites?

Euphemisms for Death and Dying

COMMON THEMEEUPHEMISMS

Career

Answered the final summons, Closed shop, Headed for the last roundup, Took his final bow

Temperature

Assumed room temperature

Inspirational

Went to a better place, Went to his reward, Met his maker, Was promoted to Glory, Sprouted wings, Joined the choir invisible, Laid down his burden, Took a harp

Money

Was taken out of production, Passed his sell-by date, Bought the farm, Cashed in his chips

Soil

Counting worms, Took a dirt nap, Examines the radishes from below, Eats dandelions by the root, Picks turnips with a stepladder, Pushes up daisies, Became a root inspector

Wood

Wears a pine overcoat (i.e., a wooden coffin), Bought a pine condo

Ingestion

Bit the biscuit, Bit the dust

Sleep & Rest

Took the great cat nap, Turned up his toes, Went on a permanent vacation

Travel & Leaving

Checked out, Departed this Earth, Went over the Big Ridge, Went the way of all flesh, Went North (or South), Followed the light, Left the building, Entered the double doors, Returned to his source, Used his one-way ticket

The Undersell

Had a negative patient outcome, Became living challenged, Kicked the oxygen habit

Our Mortality Binds Us To One Another

When you take a harp, will you also be taking your body parts with you?

When you take a harp, will you also be taking your body parts with you?

Excerpt From a Letter to a Donor's Family

Because of the selfless donation of a tissue donor, my mother received a cornea transplant in 2012 after two failed cataract surgeries left her with a torn iris, a damaged cornea, and 20/400 vision. Her independence had disappeared along with her vision. She could no longer drive, and everyday tasks such as reading became difficult.

A cornea transplant changed her world. Here is an excerpt from the appreciation letter she wrote to her donor's next-of-kin:

"[My surgery] is where your loved one enters, for s/he transformed my life. It has been just over two months since the transplant, and I am driving again, have no pain, am reading, and enjoy eyesight that is now 20/40 and still improving. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to play board games or a game of ball out in the yard with my grandchildren, or even to see clearly the smiles on their faces.

Life is beautiful again, and I have you and your loved one to thank for it. Your selfless act of donation restored my vision.

I am now and will forever be grateful and humbled. Behind my success story is your story of sadness and sacrifice. Please know that that knowledge never leaves my thoughts. I am grateful beyond words. I hope you will find some solace that some glimmer of goodness could come out of such a sad event. ...

Having become a recipient, I feel blessed that one day I may be able to bring some light into someone else's life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!"

Cadavers: Donate Your Spare Parts To Science

When you're done using your body, others could use what's left.

When you're done using your body, others could use what's left.

Interested In Body Donation?

Following are resources to help you locate a recipient organization for your body donation:

  • The University of Florida Anatomical Gift Program maintains a List of Body Donation Programs In the United States
  • The Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center central collection and distribution program for postmortem human brains used in research. The Brain Bank supports research on neurodegenerative diseases and psychiatric illness.
  • Google "willed body program" and the name of your state.

Will You Be Counting Them By Their Roots?

Euphemisms for death and dying make the topic easier to discuss.  What's your favorite?

Euphemisms for death and dying make the topic easier to discuss. What's your favorite?

Notes

1Rutland, Sarah. ""How much skin do we have?"." HowStuffWorks. Accessed March 17, 2014. http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/information/anatomy/how-much-skin-do-we-have.htm.
2Freedman, Donna. "How to Donate Your Body to Science." Get Rich Slowly. Last modified January 30, 2012. http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2012/01/30/how-to-donate-your-body-to-science/.
3Shapiro, Joseph. "The Seamy Side Of The Human Tissue Business." NPR.org. Last modified July 19, 2012. http://www.npr.org/2012/07/19/156988089/the-seamy-side-of-the-human-tissue-business.
4Rogell, Eric. "Your Body Part Price List: You're Worth More Dead Than Alive (Infographic)." DiscoveryNews. Last modified April 18, 2012. http://news.discovery.com/human/life/your-body-part-price-list-youre-worth-more-dead-than-alive-infographic.htm.
5The Economist. "The cadaver market: Death, where is thy bling?" Accessed March 17, 2014. http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21595433-growing-industry-tries-meet-demand-corpses-death-where-thy-bling.
6Katches, Mark, William Heisel, and Ronald Campbell. "Body Donors Fueling A Booming Business." Sweet Liberty. Last modified April 17, 2000. http://www.sweetliberty.org/issues/hate/bodybrokers.htm.
7Aleccia, JoNel. "Donating your body to science? Nobody wants a chubby corpse." NBC News. Last modified January 9, 2012. http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/01/06/10016083-donating-your-body-to-science-nobody-wants-a-chubby-corpse.
8Solon, Olivia. "Why I'm donating my brain to science (and why you should too)." Wired UK. Last modified February 10, 2012. http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-02/10/donating-brain-to-science.

Wherever you go after you die, rest in peace.

Wherever you go after you die, rest in peace.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 FlourishAnyway

Comments

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 05, 2018:

Debra Hylton - You're requesting information specific to Arora (Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency) and would have to direct your questions to that organization. Here's their website: http://www.arora.org/information_resources/donatio...

From a personal standpoint, my uncle donated his body to science through a local medical school in Virginia when he died of chronic leukemia. His next of kin was told that his body had been transported to a medical school in Rhode Island, and once the body had fulfilled its scientific purpose, he was cremated at no cost to his wife and returned to her. The entire process was exceptionally professional and took under a year, far less than what was expected.

Debra Hylton on November 05, 2018:

Can I be an organ donor thru Aurora and have my body donated to science, At no cost to my family? I would then want my body created and returned to son at no cost to him. I live in Arkansas and need to know laws, regulations for this state

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 06, 2017:

Diann - I applaud your generous spirit. You would need to check with the precise organization about what to do in that case. My guess is that in many cases your family would bear the cost of shipping your body or it wouldn't be feasible.

Diann on January 06, 2017:

I want to donate my body. What happens if I'm in Europe when I die?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 28, 2015:

Mary - Even after you're gone, you'll be the gift that keeps on giving. That's excellent that you know exactly what you want and have set plans in motion to make sure that it happens the way you want.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on February 28, 2015:

You pack so much great info into your Hubs! I have already discussed my last wishes with my family. I have already paid for my cremation with a local crematory, then I want my cremains placed into a recyclable urn that has a tree sprout already inside. I can then live on as an Oak tree.

I want to be an organ donor before I'm cremated, though.

Voted this UP, etc. and shared.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 15, 2015:

Pawpawwrites - That's a good one! I'm sure there are lots of med students who could learn from you though. Or just send the brain. I'm sure you have a brain worth studying. Thanks for reading.

Jim from Kansas on February 15, 2015:

Being a donor is very important, and more people should do it. I don't think I could donate my entire body though. When I saw the title of this post, and thought about donating my body, I couldn't help seeing my body bag with a tag on it that said.....return to sender.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 02, 2014:

VioletteRose - Thanks for stopping by. It's important to have a say in what happens to your remains, even though you won't be around to see it through.

VioletteRose from Atlanta on July 02, 2014:

Great hub! I have thought about the donation of eyes, but never thought about donating for science, this is definitely something important to think about. Thanks for the great detailed information!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 18, 2014:

Nikolic - Most of us like to avoid thoughts of death, but it's one thing that will catch up with all of us. I think it's awesome that you plan to help others after you've "moved on."

Nikolic Predrag from Serbia, Belgrade on April 18, 2014:

Not so many people are thinking about this, but after reading this article should ask themselves. I've already donated my organs to the Medical Institute in Belgrade. It's nice to live with the feeling that one day you will prolong the life of someone. Voted up!!!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 16, 2014:

Crafty - Thank you so much for you comment. It is something each of us might consider, a way of giving to science and those we leave behind although it is certainly not for everyone. I appreciate your reading.

CraftytotheCore on April 16, 2014:

Wow Flourish, this gives us much to think about. Very well-researched and written article. I used to do estate planning for clients in a law firm. This would have been nice written in a booklet to have a way of explaining this to clients.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 30, 2014:

Anna - Thanks for the kind kudos. Glad you enjoyed it.

Anna Haven from Scotland on March 29, 2014:

Very detailed and we'll researched. I had no idea that there was so much involved in this topic. Really useful hub.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 29, 2014:

LongTimeMother - Some of those euphemisms are so pragmatic (e.g., negative patient outcome). I agree that it's best to discuss the topic long before it's needed. It can be a very emotional issue and may need some time to sink in. Have a lovely weekend.

LongTimeMother from Australia on March 29, 2014:

This topic of conversation should be addressed by families long before illness or tragedy strikes. Thanks for sharing your research, FA.

And thanks for lifting the mood with the euphemisms. One of my friends insists she wants to become 'worm fodder', but of all the euphemisms I've heard, my new favourite is "Kicked the oxygen habit."

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 28, 2014:

MizBejabbers - Yes, it's important to always do your research and read the fine print. In the sidebar on "Steps For Donating Your Body To Science," I recommend that people "Fully understand any costs, their method of disposing of remains, and how your corpse may be used." The situations you referenced are perfect examples of why that's necessary. Thanks for sharing them!

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on March 28, 2014:

This is an excellent informative article on the subject of body donation. Many people want to donate their organs, but they don’t think about donating their whole body to help others. However, I do have some ethical concerns about some of the uses listed in your hub.

Of the donors, you wrote: “Most are motivated by altruism, although some are pragmatists who wish to forgo burial and cremation costs.” Trying to escape burial or cremation costs doesn’t always apply. When my cousin donated his body to science, my aunt was shocked to find out after the fact that she was responsible for these costs anyway.

My cousin died of a heart attack in his 50s. He was an alcoholic and would have been homeless if it were not for being taken in and supported by his family. In gratitude he donated his body to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to spare his mother the final expenses. She, by choice, paid for a memorial service immediately after his death. After his body was in the custody of UAMS, she was informed that she would be responsible for his final expenses, and his cremation was not discounted just because of his donation. She was shocked and outraged, but there was nothing she could do.

So, you are wise in advising people to read the final print, and I advise them to carefully scrutinize what it says about the responsibility of the burial or cremation. Voted up++

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 27, 2014:

Thanks, Heidi!

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on March 27, 2014:

Congrats on winning the HubPot Challenge! You deserve it!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 27, 2014:

parrster - Thank you for your enthusiastic support. Donating your body is a good way to honor the living.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 27, 2014:

Barry - Thanks for reading. You are so practical donating your entire body to science!

Richard Parr from Australia on March 26, 2014:

Fantastic article, in fact I think it should have won the Hubpot challenge. Congratulations BTW on your achievements in that, well deserved. I've been thinking about what to have done with my shell when I no longer need it, and you present the options and reasons for each marvellously well. Food for thought. Voted up and all buttons clicked.

Barry Rutherford from Queensland Australia on March 26, 2014:

Registered and informed my relatives that I am an organ donor & that funeral costs are uneccary.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 24, 2014:

WriterJanis - I'm glad this was informative. One prompt for me writing it was learning my dad wanted to do this. Yet I wondered how and where you'd need to start. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Janis from California on March 24, 2014:

I never knew there were so many helpful resources to donate one's body. This was quite educational to read.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 23, 2014:

Suzanne - It never hurts to inquire. In some countries if you haven't pre-willed your body to science, your family cannot do it after your death. Thanks for reading, commenting, and voting!

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on March 22, 2014:

I enjoyed reading this, surprisingly! I've often thought that donating my body after I die would be a great idea, except I have an illness and I'm a smoker, so I'm not sure who would want it......voted useful and up ;)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 22, 2014:

Cecileportilla - Thank you for reading and commenting. We're all going to die one day, so why not give back, be useful, and help science learn?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 22, 2014:

CrisSp - Thank you for sharing the Canadian experience. I like that people make their own choice and maintain accountability for it, whatever they decide. I appreciate you voting and sharing.

Cecile Portilla from West Orange, New Jersey on March 22, 2014:

This was an excellent hub and reminder that we all can make a meaningful contribution to humanity. We have nothing to lose by making a donation because we cannot use what ever we donated after we are gone. Thanks for the reminder that we are all going to die whether we like it or not. However we can die knowing that a part of us will continue to live! Voted up!

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on March 22, 2014:

Oh goodness, what a topic to discuss! Very insightful indeed!

Here in Canada, we are obliged to fill up a form every time we renew our government health card. That form encourages us to donate our body (or essential organs) to the health care system in case of death. Of course, we also have a choice of simply saying no to it. Regardless, we have to return the form with our preferences, so that our health card is coded as per our preferences. So far, everyone in my family is a donor because we believed in helping out. I would be more than happy to donate my eyes (for example) to someone who's in dire need of it when my soul departs from my body. Why not?

Well done hub! Very interesting. Voting up, useful and sharing.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 22, 2014:

kerlund74 - I'm glad this was informative. Have a good weekend!

kerlund74 from Sweden on March 22, 2014:

This is an important hub, indeed. I think few of us realize his much value our dead bodies have. I can hardly see a good reason why NOT donating my body when I no longer are alive. Interesting hub with lot of information that is new for me.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 21, 2014:

Nancy - Thank you! I was both surprised and delighted!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 21, 2014:

Bill - I'm glad it was helpful and inspired you to consider the options. I hope that time is a long way off... . Have a great weekend!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 21, 2014:

Heidi - I like your perspective about reusing and recycling! Have a good weekend.

Nancy Owens from USA on March 21, 2014:

Hello, my friend! Just wanted to say congratulations on winning the Hub Pot Challenge the other day. I just saw it :)

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on March 21, 2014:

Hi Flourish. What an education this was. My wife and I have talked about this but have never come to any conclusive decisions. You have given me much to think about. Knowing that we can do some good long after we are gone is a wonderful legacy to leave behind. Great job. Have a nice weekend.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on March 21, 2014:

Extensive coverage of a topic many do not want to address! Great job, as always.

Here in Illinois, you can register to be part of the organ donor program easily when you renew your license. At least some vital transplant material is available to those of the living that need it.

Aside from that, I definitely agree that the body can be a great gift if "repurposed," instead of rotting in a casket in the ground. I have my ecological reasons against the overblown funeral procedures societies like ours use, too. That being said, I'm glad the pharaohs did what they did to provide us a glimpse into that ancient civilization.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 21, 2014:

Writer Fox - Thank you for the kind support. I hope the hub encourages people to give it some thought and share their decision with their families. Have a great weekend!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 21, 2014:

Liz - Thanks for stopping by. One thing that gave me great pause was learning that animal skin (e.g., pigs' skin) is often used for skin grafting. They already give so much to people, and this is something we can do to not only help humanity but also reduce the broadscale need to use animals -- especially when we won't be needing our skin anymore six feet under. Have a good weekend!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 21, 2014:

Faith Reaper - Thank you! You have a great weekend, too!

Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on March 21, 2014:

What an extremely comprehensive, well-researched article! When you think of all the people who opt for cremation, donating these bodies to science is a much wiser choice. Voted up and enjoyed!

Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on March 21, 2014:

This is definitely something to think about and sad to say, I haven't yet made a decision. It is worth pondering for sure, however, as death can take any one of us at any time...scary thought to go along with my morning coffee! This was an informative hub and the letter was beautiful. Thanks for sharing and giving me something to consider!!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on March 21, 2014:

Congrats on being in the Top 10, and then winning!!! Awesome job!

Have a great weekend,

Faith Reaper

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 21, 2014:

Frank - Thanks for reading and um ... donating? Have a good day!

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on March 21, 2014:

anyway Flourish.. I will take this as advice LOL I enjoyed this hub :)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 20, 2014:

Raymond - Thanks for sharing your own story. I don't think any of us are looking forward to it!

Raymond Philippe from The Netherlands on March 20, 2014:

What a terrific hub. Our whole family are registered organ donors (not looking forward to that though ;-) . But donating to science. Uhm. I do not know why, but I am not there yet. Your hub provided a tremendous amount of arguments. Thanks!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 19, 2014:

Jaye - Your comment was insightful and educational, too. Thank you!

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on March 19, 2014:

One more comment, re euphemisms for death. My late father-in-law, whose wit never wavered in 93 years, referred to death as "kicking the bucket" and sometimes began a sentence, "When I kick the bucket...."

The origin of the idiom is 16th century Britain (Norfolk, in particular) where the bar on which a pig is hung for slaughter (even in the present, I understand) is called a "bucket." The pig, in its death throes, kicks the bucket. Pretty gruesome, eh? I doubt my late father-in-law gave the origin a lot of thought, if any. He just liked the (to him) jaunty phrase.

I think I prefer the straightforward words, "She (or he) died." Americans seem to find it more difficult to consider death without resorting to euphemisms, so these continue to abound. The word "passed" or the phrases "passed over" or "passed over" are used extensively here in the southern U.S. I, for one, deplore this tendency. When I shuffle off this mortal coil, I'd prefer the correct terminology be used. Of course, those who are left behind are the ones who deserve consideration at this point. I won't have any say in the matter--as far as description of my departure.

Jaye

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 19, 2014:

Thanks for dropping by, Eddy.

Eiddwen from Wales on March 19, 2014:

Very interesting and leaving much food for thought. Great hub and voted up.

Eddy.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 19, 2014:

Rajan - Thanks for the compliment. I am glad you enjoyed this and were able to get something from it.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 19, 2014:

This is an awesome and very informative hub. I learnt so many things, many I never gave deep thought to. Thank you.

Voted up and awesome.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 18, 2014:

JessBraz - Thank you for your kind words and the congrats. I think your sister and my father are cut out of the same cloth. He wants to be beneficial to science, although he does say that if we have to pay for them to transport him, then all bets are off and just kick his corpse under the bus (OMG!). It is so good to talk about these things in advance.

JessBraz from Canada on March 18, 2014:

This was incredibly well written and well researched! Bravo. You did an awesome job on this! I found it interesting... my sister has made it very clear that when she passes away she wants "to be stripped for parts" ... It kind of freaks me out a bit, but she's all about donating herself to science. I'll have to send this hub to her. I'm sure she'll find it fascinating.

Voted up! Cheers.

Jess.

PS- Congrats on winning the hubpot challenge!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 18, 2014:

Jodah - Thank you for stopping by. I did not know about the HubPot Challenge status until you told me! If it's something that is important to you, write it into your will and select an executor who will honor your wishes.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 18, 2014:

JayeWisdom - I am sorry about your four (!) unusual medical disorders and hope you are feeling well under the circumstances. I certainly understand how it sucks to win the wrong lottery -- the lottery of rare diseases. Wouldn't it have been fantastic if you had that luck with the LOTTO? I sometimes think about that.

In researching the hub, I learned so much about what I do and do not want. If it's something you want to do, I encourage you to investigate it, find a specific organization, write your wishes into your will and discuss the what/why with the executor of your will and family members. They have an ethical duty to follow your wishes, whatever that may be, and working it all out way in advance will ease the situation when you get promoted to heaven.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on March 18, 2014:

Great hub Flourish and deserving winner of the HubPot Challenge. My wife and I are willing to donate our bodies to science and have organ donor cards, but our eldest son says he won't agree to it if we die. So what can we do, even if it was in our wills I think the family get the final say. Voted up.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 18, 2014:

Rafiq23 - I was intrigued to read particularly about the support given to body/tissue donation by practically all of the major religions. It sure is a way to be helpful to one's fellow man in death, as in life. Thank you for stopping by!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 18, 2014:

Sha - I don't know about Florida, but some states word organ donation on the drivers license to include tissue donation as well (corneas, brain, etc.). You may want to double check what you've signed up, and no matter what your choice talk to your next-of-kin to ensure they understand your wishes. They're responsible for carrying through on your wishes in a timely manner, and it's best that they know your perspective. I love you'll be around for a good long time, however.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 18, 2014:

Michael - Thank you for the warm compliment. That is outstanding that you have such experience as an anatomy lab instructor. It's a tough topic no matter what one's perspective is. Such a donation assists future doctors in standing on the proverbial shoulders of giants.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 18, 2014:

Susan - Donating to science is certainly one way to make a lasting impact and give back to humanity. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. I agree that Steve Jobs' quote was very compelling. Thank you for sharing, voting, and commenting.

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on March 18, 2014:

My father-in-law donated his body to the large university hospital in the city where I live. Since I have not one, but four, unusual medical disorders (one of which is neurological in origin), my "used" body could potentially help research for any of these disorders. You've given me something to think about with this thorough hub, though I realize that convincing my family could be the toughest part of such a decision.

Voted Up+++

Jaye

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 18, 2014:

BrandyMD - That is a lovely testimonial to her. I am sure she was with you in spirit. Thank you so much for providing the perspective of a family member.

Tilly on March 18, 2014:

My grandma did this. She died of cancer and donated her body to science for research. It was a little weird and uncomfortable to me, especially having a funeral without her since she was still there getting researched when we held it, but at the end of it all she helped so many people with what she did and there's no complaints here about that. It was very selfless and sweet of her, just like she was in life; she was in death.

Susan W from The British Isles, Europe on March 18, 2014:

Very informative hub, Flourish and so well-written. Even though it is hard for us to think about, I guess that a decision always has to be made no matter what. It is a very important issue for us to consider since so many depend on life-saving medical research. Since I am a bit of a scientist myself, I would probably be in favour of donating our bodies to medical research since so many can benefit from it. Think of all the life-saving operations that surgeons could practice or cures that they want to try out. Millions of people could benefit from one body.

It isn't the most pleasant of things to think about, that scientists and doctors will be poking at our organs but once we die, our body will no longer be used in the afterlife. It'll be just our souls to carry us around.

You presented this very well and you did so much research too! Again, such an excellent hub on an issue that will affect us all one day. I particularly loved the quote by Steve Jobs, it is so enlightening. Shared and voted up. What an informative read!

Michael R Basso, PhD, MBA, from USA Greater NYC area on March 18, 2014:

You are an amazingly talented writer, Flourish! Having been a 'fill in' anatomy lab instructor for a few semesters, I can relate to the complexity and sensitivity of the topic. Well done!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on March 18, 2014:

Flourish, I'm an organ donor. In the state of Florida you can request it when you get your driver license. It's stated right on there that I'm an organ donor. I want the rest of me to be cremated and planted in my garden. It never dawned on me to stipulate which crematory to use. I guess I need to take another look at my will.

Muhammad Rafiq from Pakistan on March 18, 2014:

A thought provoking hub! It's better to live and die for others than to get buried 6 feet under the ground. Have you thought about the reaction of your family members? Interesting!!!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 18, 2014:

MsDora - Thanks for reading and commenting. It is a challenging subject and many of us know little about what is involved with donating. Let's hope we don't need to worry about it for a long time.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 18, 2014:

Excellent article. Seems like all we ever wanted to know bout the subject. On the one hand, it's great to be useful after death; but the thought of rejection, well--. Anyway, thanks for all the insightful information. Voted Up!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 18, 2014:

Devika - Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 18, 2014:

Deeda - As you like it!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 18, 2014:

What a thought and I feel so warmed up by this hub.Such great importance and so much thought here.

Deeda on March 17, 2014:

Frugal in life! Frugal in Death! My wishes are, "Can't spend money shipping an old cadaver around." They can have it, but must come and get it! Go have a party and play Danny Boy!

Deeda

Nell Rose from England on March 17, 2014:

Such an important topic, and strangely enough when I was at work there was a woman there who was very 'well to do' as my mother would have called her, so we were so shocked when her mother died and she said, 'Oh I am leaving her to medical science'! it wasn't something we had even really heard of before, but after talking about it it did make sense!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on March 17, 2014:

Yes, that is what I told my co-worker that I would just see a little young girl or young woman and think of her when she was alive, but she said, they do not even think of them like that, but just a cadaver. Guess, you have to have that mindset, but I do not, but I am glad there are those who can do it no doubt!!!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 17, 2014:

Faith Reaper - Oh that is too much! I'd have bad dreams, too. As a high school student I had the chance to tour an anatomy dissection lab at a medical school with all the cadavers laid out. I still recall seeing that one cadaver we were looking at had chipped paint on her fingernails. It really brought home the notion that that was someone's loved one (or it used to be).

Faith Reaper from southern USA on March 17, 2014:

LOL, well, that's one way to get to Harvard! Oh, your comment reminded me of way back when my husband was in the Air Force and we lived in Fort Worth, Texas for just two years ...anyway, I worked at this company and my co-worker's daughter wanted to be a heart surgeon. I thought that was so cool, and then she began to tell me that her daughter had to buy her own cadaver and they placed the cadavers in a huge tank of Formaldehyde and she had to fish her cadaver out when they were learning to cut on the body .... eeks!!! But that is the only way to learn how to do so is by having a human body. Boy, I would have nightmares to no end!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 17, 2014:

Faith Reaper - Your comments are always so entertaining and engaging. It is definitely one way to make a contribution to humanity. Those cadavers on the body farm are pulling some hard duty though. I know I am not fit for that, but my brain will probably go to the brain bank. One way or another I'll make it to Harvard after all! (I was rejected for college admission there many years ago.).

Faith Reaper from southern USA on March 17, 2014:

Oh, cool hub here, Flourish! I have already marked mine to donate my body. I loved the story of the mother who received a cornea transplant, very inspirational indeed. Hey, we are done with our bodies, and I know I am not really there anyway, for I am "absent the body, present with Jesus!" I just hope they can use my body LOL. That would be something to donate your body, and they send a note to your family, "No Thanks!" : (

No matter the subject, you always cover it thoroughly and then some!

Up and more and sharing

Blessings,

Faith Reaper

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 17, 2014:

Suzanne - Your father was very generous. I like your cremation and planting idea.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 17, 2014:

Victoria - Thanks for stopping by and leaving your viewpoint.

Victoria Van Ness from Fountain, CO on March 17, 2014:

The title sounds hilarious, but I actually totally agree. I don't believe that my body should simply be buried along with everyone else if it can be used to help another person(s). Very nice Hub!

justmesuzanne from Texas on March 17, 2014:

My father did this, and my sister and I agreed that it was the most considerate thing he had ever done. We won't be doing it, though. As my sister says "I don't want to end up at some medical students' frat party without my knowledge!" Cremation and being planted in one of those nifty biodegradable cups with a tree seed for me, please!

Voted up and useful! :D

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 17, 2014:

Bill - Glad you enjoyed this. I learned a lot in researching the hub. Not a fun subject but it's good to make a decision and be at peace with it.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 17, 2014:

Jackie - It can be a hard choice. Thanks for stopping by!

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on March 17, 2014:

Not something we like to dwell on but very important to the ones that may receive. I have been thinking about this and should probably make that decision pretty soon. Thanks for pushing me in that direction. ^

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 17, 2014:

Thank you for the gentle kick in the butt. I haven't done this yet but will soon. So very important.

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