Published Oct 12, 2020
When you ponder what happens to your body after you die, you’re probably deciding between having your body buried or cremated. But what if I told you that you could have a significant impact on the world even after death? What if I said you could potentially save millions of lives?
Donating your body to science and medical research gives you that opportunity. While the thought of your body being used for experimentation and study may be off-putting, there are several upsides to this alternative. End-of-life decisions are a sensitive topic, so it is in our best interest that you be fully informed before making any decision. Here, we’ve compiled a list of advantages (pros) and disadvantages (cons) of donating your body to science, so let’s get right to it.
Benefit medical research
The greatest impact of donating your body to science is in the fields of medicine and science. Many institutions, such as ours and medical school, will surely benefit from body donations for a variety of purposes. Your body could be used as a cadaver for medical students to study and practice surgeries on. It could also be used for experimentation in understanding diseases and possibly coming up with cures for them. You can see that donating your body has some truly altruistic motivation.
Donating your body to science could save you a ton of money.
Average funeral costs in 2020 go between $7,000 and $12,000 while cremation costs go between $6,000 and $7,000. I don’t know about you, but that looks like a lot of money. When donating your body to science, the institution you donate to will cover all charges, including transportation and cremation costs (all donated bodies are cremated after use). Donating your body is, in most cases, free of charge.
Compared to planning burials, donating your body is hassle-free
For some people, planning and arranging funeral or cremation services can be overwhelming. After going through a painful and tragic event, a lot of people won’t want to face the hassles of putting all these activities in order.
Funeral services are integral to the grieving process.
What happens upon death is that the donor’s body is taken away almost immediately. This means that you won’t have enough time to host a funeral service, where the deceased’s body is present. However, you may opt for a memorial instead, which is similar to a funeral minus the body. Studies have emerged that show the importance of funerals in the grieving process. Medical schools may hold a communal memorial for all the donors, but that tends to happen 18 months after the start of a semester. The lack of a funeral service may not satisfy the need for closure.
Not all bodies will be accepted.
For specific medical reasons, your body may not be accepted. In many cases, organizations only accept bodies with complete organs. So, if you have donated organs in the past, many organizations will disqualify you. Additionally, depending on the nature of your death, you may also be disqualified as a donor. If this happens, you may be left with your relative’s body without prior funeral plans in place, so you may get into a frantic rush in making last-minute arrangements. It’s best to have contingency plans in case you run into unforeseen circumstances.
It may not be acceptable in some religions.
As I’ve mentioned, after the practitioners use your body for research or experimentation, your body is cremated. However, some religions prohibit this practice. You will want to consider this if you’ve been thinking of donating your body to science.
All end-of-life decisions require a lot of time and reflection before you make them. Discuss this with your family, close friends, and religious leaders before making such a significant decision. We hope this article was able to lay out the advantages and disadvantages of donating your body to science.
About The Author
Terrence Tan Ting is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.