The Many Uses for Bodies Donated to Science

Most people think of medical schools when they think of donating their body to science. And that is very common. However, there are other ways that a cadaver can be used when it is donated. Some are very surprising!

What happens when you donate your body to science?

The body donation process usually begins while the person is still alive. The choose an accredited donation program that can be through a university or nonprofit. The program screens the person while they are still living.

During this screening they go over the person’s medical history including illnesses, surgeries, drug use, and other issues. Age is not a factor in body donation, but if the body is too thin or too obese it can bar them from donating. Diseases like HIV and Hepatitis can also be dealbreakers.

The organization keeps the file on the person until they pass away. Then they conduct a second medical assessment before approving the donation. If the body meets the requirements of the program, its accepted.

A donated is not embalmed like it would be for a funeral home. It undergoes a special process that will preserve it for several years. Once the donor’s time is up, the remains are cremated. If the family wants the ashes, they are returned to them with a death certificate.

How is a Donated Body Used?

There are actually many ways that a donated body can be used. It all depends on where they make the donation. These are a few of the most common.

The Medical Industry

Medical professionals, researchers, and students have long used cadavers to train future doctors, further research, and more. It has come a long way since the grave robbing days when the bodies were in short supply for training and research.

Here are some of the more common ways that cadavers are used in medical environments.

  • Train medical students
  • Further medical research
  • Advance surgery procedures
  • Train surgeons
  • Test laser treatments
  • Train first responders

The Crash Test Cadaver

The Wayne State University School of Medicine fields the donations, but if the person wants their body to be part of the safety testing, they are sent to the Bio-Mechanics lab. Then their body can be used to provide information on crashes and how they impact the human body in ways that plastic crash test dummies simply cannot.

The Museum Exhibit

Mutter Museum in Philadelphia or the University of New Mexico’s Maxwell Museum of Anthropology will use donated bodies for their exhibits. The Maxwell Museum has a large skeleton collection.

The Body Farm

The University of Tennessee Forensic Anthropology Center, called “The Body Farm,” has hundreds of skeletons and cadavers that is uses to research the stages of decay in various environments. The 2 ½ acre farm helps law enforcement and anthropologists answer vital questions about determining time of death and body identification.

If you want to live on after you pass and make a contribution to humanity by donating your body, you have many options. Before you make the decision though, you should talk to your loved ones and iron out any details because some donations require that the donor foots the transport bill. So, make sure you understand the program and all of its requirements and processes so your donation can go smoothly.