There are many decisions that must be made when one is dying. What funeral home to go to? Which casket to be buried in? Cremated or buried?
One of the growing trends that many consider is whether to donate the body after dying. Some people are deciding between typical organ donation and the full body donation as their final contribution to humanity. Full body donation is the act of offering your whole body (consisting of human tissues, organs, and specimen) for the benefit of science; specifically, for medical research.
The donated human tissue is used to gain more advancement in the medical field with the aim of finding the cure for diseases such as cancer, bipolar disorder, diabetic neuropathy, Huntington’s disease, schizophrenia, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. These bodies of tissue are also utilized as a training ground for surgeons, paramedics, and fire fighters in preparation for their practice. Medical discoveries and breakthroughs also occur while performing tests and operations on the human body.
Who can donate a body? In the full body donation, there are only a few exceptions for donors. Age and health condition are not necessarily a prerequisite, but those with HIV/Aids, tuberculosis, hepatitis, severe obesity, decomposition, and syphilis are not eligible for such a donation.
If you opt for full body donation, it is important to find a tissue bank or full body donation program that will meet your standards. Most organizations follow a simple process which starts with the consent given by the donor or the legal next-of-kin, such as your parents or siblings. It is vital to discuss your plan of donating your body with your family to ensure that your wishes will be followed. You must also inform your doctors of your wish so they know the proper actions to take after your death.
The body tissues and parts are then distributed to respective government agencies, private companies, medical or educational institutions, laboratories, or whichever organization that needs it the most.
Full body donation is usually free of charge, wherein the chosen organization takes care of transportation costs of the body, filing of death certificates, as well as the cremation, though this may vary. The cremated remains of the donor will be returned to the family after a specific timeframe upon their wish.
The donor also has the option to choose which type of scientific research will be supported by his fully body donation. Thus, it is important to know all of the policies and procedures that surround this anatomical gift-giving. Once decided to go through this process, a plan B is also crucial in case something happens that hinders your plan A. Tissue banks or medical programs may find a cause after the time of death that prohibits the donation, so preparation is key.
For people who are considering not having a traditional funeral or cannot afford one, full body donation is an alternative to reflect upon. Apart from saving on costs or having an unconventional “way to go”, it is a noble act in the development of science, and eventually, in saving lives.