The question of whole body donation often arises when people are making end of life decisions. People who suffer from or have lost loved ones to debilitating diseases often consider whole body donation as a way to ease future suffering of others. Body donation is also considered by those who have personally benefited from medical research or advances enabled by the donation of others.
For many, living a life of purpose includes planning for purpose in death. Whole body donation enables advances in medical research and technology that can improve the quality of life for patients today and for future generations.
Yet there is a gap between those who want to donate and those who actually do. One of the reasons for this gap is a lack of knowledge about whole body donation and the process. 90% of Americans say they support donation of organs and tissue, but only 30% know how to go about it.
Whole body donation differs from organ donation in that organ donors provide working organs for transplant into other living people, while whole body donation enables researchers to use human tissue for medical research and training. Medical research includes investigation into cures and treatments for diseases, improvements in prosthetic technology and development of new surgical equipment. Additionally, whole body donation enables surgeons to train on new surgical techniques and it allows doctors and first responders to learn life-saving procedures. Organ donors can also be whole body donors.
The kind of research done depends on the research needs at the time of passing. Science Care maintains strict privacy for donors and researchers. Actual research projects are not shared with donor families and names of donors are not shared with medical researchers. Science Care provides donor families with information about the types of medical research that were in process at time of donation.
First, screen whole body donation programs for key qualities such as AATB accreditation. The next step is to register. This is easy to do and it does not involve a commitment or a contract. Join the Science Care registry online, or call any time 24 hours a day at 800.417.3747.
You will receive a card for your wallet and extras to give to family and friends.
Note: Preregistration is helpful, but not required.
Tell your family and friends about your wish to donate your body to science. They will be the ones making decisions after you pass, so it’s important that you let them know what you want, and who they should call. The promise of life enabled by whole body donation can make a difficult subject easier to talk about.
You can also refer your family members to the Science Care website, which answers many questions.
Whole body donation can alleviate financial burden at end of life and can benefit donor families in times of need. It is a selfless gift to future generations, and Science Care works to make registration easy and informative and to make the process trouble free for donor families during a difficult time.