Whole Body Donation vs. Organ Donation: What’s the Difference?
Published August 7th, 2019 | Modified March 17, 2020
Whole body donation vs. organ donation which is better? Donating your body is heroic. Whether it’s your whole body or only a part of you-which actually is your choice-it’s still an act of kindness.
After all, you’ll never know how many lives you can save because of your body, but what exactly is the difference between a whole body donation and organ donation?
Yes, both are the same especially the fact that you’re offering yourself for the sake of others. But they are, in fact, quite different. So before you register as a donor, it is important to understand the difference between these two.
This is a surgical process of removing an organ from the donor and giving it to someone in need of a transplant.
According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), 21 people die in the US every day while waiting for an organ to become available.
Unfortunately, demand exceeds supply. More people are in need of an organ compared to those who are willing to donate. With organ donation, there is always the possibility that you can save someone’s life.
Organs you can donate includes
Two Types of Organ Donation
Living organ donation
Living organ donation is when a donor donates only a part of their organ to a patient while the donor is still alive.
For instance, a donor can donate one of their kidneys to a patient while still alive.
With this, people don’t have to wait long for an organ to be available, thus, saving more lives.
Living donors can be anyone. They can be friends, spouses, family members, or people who wish to help those in need.
Deceased organ donation
Sometimes, living organ donation is not an option. There are some organs you can only transplant at the time of the donor’s death.
For example, a surgeon can only perform a heart transplant once the donor dies. Hence, the patient needs to wait first for a heart to be available.
Deceased organ donation is only possible after the donor has been declared brain dead.
Whole Body Donation
This type of donation of a body after death is generally used for medical education and research.
Whole body donation has an important role. Not only in understanding the human body but also in making advancements in science.
There is usually no cost with whole body donation. The donation programs often cover all related expenses such as cremation or burial.
After the donation is used for its intended purpose, it is often returned to the family for interment.
Who Can Sign Up?
Almost anyone can become an organ or whole body donor. There is usually no imposed age limit. Even those with pre-existing medical conditions can do organ or whole body donation.
But, those diagnosed with HIV infection or cancer are often not considered for organ donation.
Same thing in whole body donation. Some programs won’t take obese bodies or those with contagious diseases such as hepatitis C or HIV. Though this depends on the whole body donation program you signed up for. Some might have age restrictions, some may not.
In some programs, they accept even those who are very ill. There are instances that researchers need donors who have a specific disease.
How To Sign Up?
There’s no specific time or rule when to sign up, but it’s best to make arrangements before you die.
There are a lot of ways to be a donor, and one option is to sign up through your state’s registry. From there, you can check “yes” to donations on your driver’s license.
Another way is to register with whole-body donation organizations like DonorCure. We match donated bodies to appropriate medical research programs. Visit our homepage to learn more about how you can become a body donor.
You can also apply to institutions if you wish to help doctors or medical students hone their skills. You can will your body to any educational institutions that offer donation programs.
Can I Be Both an Organ and Whole Body Donor?
With an excessive need for both organ donation and whole body donation, of course, it is possible.
If you choose to be both an organ and whole body donor, this is how it will work:
For example, if someone needs a heart transplant, the program where you signed up to will work with your next of kin. They will help and assign your organ to the patient who needs it.
They will then give your body to your chosen medical research institute. Even if the institute didn’t receive your body whole, its purpose is still for research. It is possible since some of the medical researchers only need a specific part of your body to conduct a study. Thus, it’s still considered a whole body donation.
Whole body donation vs. organ donation, whichever you choose is a personal choice. It is recommended to sign up for any donor program that interests you. DonorCure helps connect medical professionals with body donors. Learn more about how to donate your body to science on our website.
About The Author
As a nurse, Franchette Agatha Jardin firmly believes in the importance of understanding the human body and the advancement of science. She writes about what people can do for the betterment of the world and how everyone can be part of something great.