Although a far less common option than burial or cremation, whole-body donation is a valid and highly beneficent choice. There are many medical research facilities that will accept donations and, with them, make strides in research and education. To many, this may seem like a very extreme decision, one that their families may oppose. In order to clarify some of the details around the process, we have compiled some of the most commonly asked questions about body donations.
Are there age restrictions?
While many facilities will not accept an individual who is below 18 years of age, there is no upper limit on age.
What are the eligibility guidelines?
While most people are eligible for whole-body donation, there are a handful of restrictions; individuals suffering from infectious or contagious diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis C are not eligible for donation, this is also the case for bodies that have decomposed for more than 48 hours or have been mutilated in any way. Additionally, if there is any opposition from the family of the deceased, the body will not be accepted.
What are body donations used for?
Body donations are used for a wide variety of medical services. In some cases, they are included in anatomical study, while in others tissue samples may be employed in cancer research, the development of various medical treatments and even hip and knee replacement procedures.
What happens to the body after research is completed?
Donated bodies are typically used for anywhere between six months and two years. After that, they undergo biocremation at the cost of the research or medical facility. If the family would like to receive the cremains, this is usually easily arranged; any memorial service or disposal of ashes can then be arranged.
How do I sign up?
If you are interested in donating your body, you should look into how you would like your tissue to be used—for example, if you are particularly interested in cancer research, you may want to find an institution that is working on this area and would use your donation accordingly. Once you have decided on the organization, you will be asked to fill out a form and sign a release. Please note that signing a form does not mean that you are bound to this choice, you are free to change your mind at any point. If no form has been signed at the time of death, this may be a choice decided upon by the family of the deceased; usually the next of kin will be able to make the decision.