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Donating a Body to Science


Anatomical Need


The need is great for anatomical gifts in the majority of medical programs
throughout the United States. The lack of anatomical subjects in many
schools forces anatomy departments to request shared bodies from other
schools or institutions. In many situations, five or more students have
to share one donated body, which limits hands-on education.


In addition to basic anatomy as a foundation course, donated bodies are
also used for teaching surgery, orthopedics, ophthalmology, cardiology,
neurology, and other specialty fields Millions of lives have been saved,
and countless individuals enjoy optimum health today because of anatomical
study using donated human gifts.


Important Issues


Whether donating a body to medical science for altruistic or pragmatic
reasons, donation of a human body is not complicated if you know all the
rules and regulations for each medical program. The two most important
things to remember in all whole body donation programs are:





  • No medical schools or state anatomical boards in the United States
    are permitted by law to purchase bodies from families or estates.




  • Physical condition of the body, and not age, is the important factor
    in body donation. There is usually no upper age limit in donation
    of a human body to medical science.




Organs and whole body donation are two separate programs, with different
needs. A potential donor must make a decision to either donate his or
her whole body or individual organ parts at death. With few exceptions,
organ and tissue donations at death will prevent whole body donation for
medical education. The exception would be the cornea of the eye, which
can be donated without affecting whole body donation.


One of the most important things to be stressed here is that a potential
body donor should not have a false sense of financial security concerning
whole body donation. Many donated bodies are rejected at death for various
reasons by medical schools.
Be prepared with alternate burial or cremation plans for final disposition
of the body.

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