How to Donate Your Body in the US

Have you thought about life after death? How about the body you are going to leave behind when you die? Does it even matter to think about it now while you are still alive? The truth is, there are many things you can do with your body after you give your last breath. One of these is to donate your body to science for research and scientific advancement. You can be an organ donor or donate your whole body.

So, you finally decided to donate your body and the question lies as to how will the process go about?

How do you consent to body donation?

Consent is essential and necessary in body donation. When you do donate, it is also important to inform your significant others to avoid future confusion about your final wishes. A donor can give consent in a variety of ways. One, consent can be done by filling up a consent form provided by a given research institution or medical school. Two, consent can be executed in writing. Option number three is to verbally express that you will be donating your body in the presence of at least two witnesses.

How do you donate your body to research?

UW-Madison medical students dissect cadavers. Many medical schools accept a person’s body as a donation after he or she dies, including the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and the Medical College of Wisconsin. – State Journal Archives

Cadavers or the dead bodies are being used for research by medical schools and research institutions in the U.S. and these institutes rely on the substantial donations of the American people. Body donation is regulated by state so if you consider body donation, you should explore which research institutions and medical centers are in your place.

Who is not eligible for donation?

Most institutions have guidelines for accepting bodies for donation. You must be qualified to be accepted. The truth is, even if you are willing to donate your dead body, there’s a chance that you’d be refused. Generally, bodies with communicable diseases like the ones positive for HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis A, B, and C, and history of illegal use of drugs will be disqualified. BMI (Body Mass Index) or the measure of body fat based on height and weight is also being considered. The process of embalming adds even more weight to the cadaver, so the donation programs may not accept bodies with high BMI as they cannot handle the weight of the donor after the embalming procedure.

In addition, these are list of reasons for non-acceptance of the body:

  • Major traumatic injuries like burns
  • Unhealed incisions from recent surgeries
  • Severe emaciation due to cancer
  • Ruptured aortic aneurysm
  • Lack of available space/ storage for cadavers
Where to donate?

In the U.S., you have the liberty to donate your body directly to the research institution or medical school of your choice, or to a third-party organization as there are many private body donation programs available. The advantage of donating through a third-party is the assurance that your body will be donated to an institution after your death. Otherwise, while you have a chosen organization, at the time of your death, that establishment may not be able to house your donated body, though this is the popular option.

How to donate to a body farm?

A Body Farm is a research facility where body decomposition can be studied in a variation of setting. These research centers are the front lines of forensic research. The goal is to have better understanding of the decomposition process. The bodies are exposed in several different ways to provide insights into decomposition under a variety of condition. These bodies are studied by students but are also used in the training of law enforcement officers in scene-of-crime skills.

Want to donate an organ?

The idea of donating your entire body is a challenge to you but still wish to make something good out of your dead body. You thought of donating some parts of it and that’s how organ donation comes in. The need for organ donations is on demand. Donated organs are given to people whose organs are dysfunctional or failing and require a transplant to survive. One organ donor can save up to 8 lives and improve quality of life by up to 75. A kidney transplant can dramatically change a person’s life. Imagine a person spending more time with family rather than being on dialysis countless times. Organs that are most needed are kidneys, livers, and hearts.

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