The other night, I was at the emergency room of our local hospital and overheard half of a phone conversation. Evidently, a relative had died of cancer within the last hour and there was no money available for a funeral. The person I could hear was lamenting that she had no idea what to do. She wanted to do the “right” thing for the deceased but didn’t know what that was.
Respecting her privacy (even though she was talking on a cell in the middle of the lobby), I said nothing….but I began to think about options she might have.
One that is not talked about much but could have been the solution to her quandary is whole body donation. Study of human bodies can help in the discovery of cures for many diseases and medical conditions and can aid in the development of new medical and surgical procedures as well as new, potentially life-saving, medicines.
If you think this is something you’d like to do, you should make the arrangements prior to your death. You can preregister with a medical school or research organization by signing a consent form stating your wish to donate your body. A copy of the consent form should be put with your will and other valuable papers so it can easily be found.
When you die, your family should notify the facility. They will transport your body transported to the research facility or medical school with which you signed the consent form.
If you did not sign a consent form agreeing to whole body donation, your family can still decide this is what they wish to do after your death. They will need to contact the medical facility or research center of choice and sign an after death donor form. Then the process is the same as if you had made arrangements pre death.
When the group to whom the body has been donated is finished with it, they will cremate it and return the ashes to the next of kin or dispose of them in the way you have designated.
Cost to the family – usually zero.
For a list of medical schools which accept whole body donations, check out the list published by the University of Florida State Anatomical Board.
A national organization we found which provides a lot of information about this subject is MedCure.
Finally, for further information about funeral options and body and organ donation, go to www.diesmart.com.