Donating Your Body To Science

By: Matthew Funeral Home
Monday, March 25, 2024

Body donation is a process that very few Americans decide to participate in. But, it is a practice that can lead to advances in medical science, improved medical training procedures, and more. This article will discuss some aspects of body donation and how you can donate your body to a good cause after passing. 

Organ Donation or Donating To Science

Over 54% of American adults are organ donors. Organ donation is a process by which doctors collect any viable and intact organs from you at the time of your death. Donations allow hospitals to provide organs for those who need them. Additionally, these two practices are not mutually exclusive. A person can be an organ, eye, and tissue donor while donating their body to science. 

Body Donation Organizations

Generally, there are three different types of organizations that accept body donations. First, medical schools and research facilities are common donation centers. Tissue banks are another option. Lastly, forensic research and training centers offer donation programs. Each of these types of donation centers works with the deceased in different ways. Overall, the main goal is to contribute to medical research or the training of medical professionals. By donating your body to science, you are helping medical students, researchers, mortuary science students, and forensic scientists. You could contribute to life-saving research or help train professionals who will save others.

What Happens to Your Body Once Donated?

After your passing, your body is given to the donor facility. Depending on the type of facility you donated your remains to, there are different processes. In general, your body will go to these facilities as soon as possible. Depending on the program you donate your body to, your cadaver may aid research and training for up to 3 years. 

Medical Schools

Most medical schools will provide an embalming process similar to that of a funeral home, except that it is meant to last longer. The medical school will usually use the cadaver to train doctors, nurses, and other soon-to-be medical professionals on various procedures/diagnoses. This allows them to learn in a controlled environment before moving on to living patients. After your body’s tenure with the school, arrangements may be made for cremation or burial. Some schools may provide these services as part of your donation.

Tissue Banks

Tissue Banks are facilities that work to match different parts of your body with requests from medical researchers. These researchers may be testing new procedures, equipment, or other forms of medical research. Partial remains are generally cremated and returned to the next of kin.

Forensic Donations

Forensic donation programs aid in criminal justice research. Overall, these facilities help develop techniques to identify deceased individuals, study injuries, and even study the effects of decomposition. Additionally, donated bodies may be used in the training of cadaver dogs and forensic scientists. Forensic donation programs do not typically return remains to the next of kin. 

Choosing a Donation Facility

It is important to do your research when it comes to choosing a body donation facility. You may want to look for a facility that researches an ailment you live with, such as cancer or diabetes. Certain facilities will have eligibility requirements, based on the types of research or training they provide. 
You may also want to look at the packages they provide for your remains. Most reputable donation facilities will discuss what is done with your remains, and how you will be memorialized. These choices come down to personal preference, but be sure to look into it if you want to donate your body.

Discussing Your Wishes With Your Family

It is important to discuss plans for body donation with your next of kin. Be sure to notify your estate planning attorney as well. Unlike an organ donor status, which is featured on your ID, most body donation facilities have to be notified of your passing by a family member or an executor of your estate. Be sure to discuss these plans with your loved ones so the proper arrangements can be made. 

For over 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve yours, every step of the way.

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