Choosing the best way to remember a loved one is often an important part of the grieving process. For those who want more than a traditional burial or cremation, there is an emerging modern option – DNA preservation. Although the process of preserving DNA in general is nothing new, advances in technology have made it possible for more families to choose DNA preservation as a way to memorialize their loved ones.
When to Collect DNA
Collecting DNA after a person has been buried is impractical, since it requires exhuming the body. Collection also can’t be done to a body that has been cremated, since that process destroys DNA. Therefore, if you are considering preserving your loved one’s DNA, it needs to be done before they are buried and prior to cremation. DNA can also be collected and preserved at any time during one’s life.
How Does It Work?
Before a person is cremated or buried, the DNA is collected from the body by taking a sample from the deceased person’s cheek, or by collecting a hair sample. The material is then sent to a laboratory to be processed, which includes purifying the DNA and preserving it. A small sample is often saved and kept in a piece of jewelry or other wearable piece of memorabilia. This provides family members with a unique way to keep someone who has passed with them in a tangible way.
What Does It Cost?
DNA preservation today is a much more affordable and practical option than it used to be. Previously, DNA had to be cryogenically frozen in order to safely store it for any length of time, a process which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, and therefore was not something the average person could afford to do. Prices for DNA preservation differ depending on where you live, and how you want your loved one’s genetic material to be stored. They range from around $300 for basic storage, to $1,500 at the higher end of the spectrum.
Why Choose DNA Preservation?
There are many reasons why families might choose to preserve a loved one’s DNA. For example, the preserved DNA allows family members to research their medical history and ancestry, which could give them insight into what’s in store medically for other members of the family. Alternatively, DNA preservation could also potentially help in a missing child situation and/or for paternal testing purposes as well. In addition, since DNA can now be stored almost anywhere (at room temperature), from your living room to a vial around your neck, it makes for an increasingly popular option for remembering loved ones who have passed.