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Jun 20, 13 at 9:56pm ^Donating Your Body to Science
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Donating your body to science is allowing a medical establishment (usually a University) to use your body for research or teaching purposes after you die. While it's usually your entire body, some private organisations apparently accept parts, presumably individual organs. In effect it's an alternative to organ donation as I'm fairly sure you can't do both. Interestingly, in some countries the question of donation falls to the next-of-kin of the deceased in the event that the deceased doesn't elect for body donation in life. After your body has fulfilled its 'purpose', the establishment will usually cremate the body and return the remains to the individual's family.
Many of the benefits of body donation are obvious, others a bit more subtle. Your body is still useful after death. Unlike organ donation it won't be saving any lives, but bodies are necessary for anatomy classes to train the next generation of doctors and surgeons. In effect, you'd be the 'trial run' for the real thing where life-threatening mistakes don't matter, and students can try to discern how or why you died from your anatomy alone. Some parts can be used in medical research in some circumstances, although usually dead tissue isn't terribly useful when you're looking at the effects of various drugs or treatments on living people. Universities particularly are in need of a constant supply of cadavers - there's a reason why graverobbing used to be a viable source of income. Besides which, some universities will cover part of or all of the cost of funerals which can remove a significant amount of financial burden on the deceased's family.
The strange thing about body donation for me is that, logically speaking, you can apply almost all of the arguments in favour of organ donation to body donation - yet I'm much more reluctant to donate my body to science than to donate my organs. Currently, the best reason I can give for not doing so is that I'm pretty sure you can't do both. Maybe it's the fact that the donation isn't a life-saving one, but objectively it still seems selfish to give your body to the worms rather than allowing still-living people to get some use out of it. A lot of people probably don't like the idea of their or their next-of-kin's naked corpse being cut up by snot-nosed university students either (and I have actually heard stories of trainee surgeons flinging bladders at each other in class), but I'm not sure whether you can come up with a good argument based on modesty or dignity for a dead body.
What are your thoughts on body donation? In particular, if you're in favour of organ donation, are you in favour of body donation for the same reason - and if not, what reasons can you come up with to separate the two? Even if you're ok with donating your own body, would you donate the body of your next-of-kin (partner, siblings, parents)?
Jun 21, 13 at 12:27am ^re: Donating Your Body to Science
quote Praetorian_LordFirst off, good thread.
And second of all you have really got me thinking here. I am wholly in favour of organ donations and as i said i think people who are against it or who do not sign up as donors should NOT be allowed transplants.
I also aknowledge and agree with your suggestion that donating your body to science is a useful and helpful thing. However like you, I am reluctant to do so. After a bit of thought it comes down to my family and there wishes.
If i knew i was dying, or when I inevitably start moving towards that phase of life i'd probably ask what they wanted. I have already discussed organ donation with much of my family (who are all donors themselves) and we unanimously agreed that to have a part of your loved one live on in another is a touching and appealing idea. The only exception was my dad saying he'd want to keep my mums eyes with her... kind of touching in its own way. And a bit creepy LOL.
Anyway, as long as my family were Ok with me donating my body I think it sounds like a good idea. However judging their reactions I think they'd want 'something' to bury or cremate. And I kind of understand why. If you flip the question and ask me what i'd do with say my dad or GF's body (Vishnu forgive anything happened to them) i'd decline to offer their bodies to science. Organs yes. Entire body? No. Unfortunately i cant adequately explain why. I think i'd just want something to hold on to regardless of the complete lack of logic behind that. Then again if they requested to have their body donated i'd probably feel like I was honoring their wishes and not only would i be fine with it but i'd be proud of their generosity in their final act of life. And as long as my family were OK with it, i'd probably be happy to donate by body aswell if it wasnt hurting any of them. I'd let them step in on the decision and honor their wishes.
Also, i'd actually argue that donating your body to science does/can save lives. Sure it may not be as direct or as apparent as giving a kydney to a dying child. But These bodies are used to test new practices and procedures, to train the doctors, surgeons and technicians of tomorow. In the long run body donation probably saves many, many lives.
Hmmm. A real interesting thread.
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Jun 21, 13 at 11:50am ^re: Donating Your Body to Science
I agree, it's a good standalone topic as well.
quote Praetorian_LordY'know, I'm not sure exactly how true it is, but supposedly most of the skeletons used in classrooms (of the ones that are actual bone, anyway) are a result of grave robbing. Most are from Southeast Asia, India in particular was supposedly a pretty big skeleton exporter in the 80s. The practice has been outlawed, if it was even legal to begin with, but it does make one wonder whose bodies are being studied, exactly.
I guess I'm not really sure which I'd prefer. On the one hand, I'd definitely venture to guess that whole body donations are much less common than organ donations. There are specific parameters a body has to meet to be eligible for donation, things like weight maximums. There's probably more demand for body donations, or that'd be my guess.
On the other hand, body donations don't really save lives. Most of medical skills are taught via simulation labs, which include essentially prosthetic bodies to practice on, and human cadaver use in labs isn't something that's all that common. I'm not even sure most medical students get a chance to work with cadavers at all, certainly not more than once or twice. How necessary is it for medical candidates to work with cadavers? I certainly don't do anything all that invasive, not on the scale of surgeries, but manequins were perfectly adequate to learn the skills themselves. Between that and the internships where students that are going to become surgeons learn what an actual procedure looks like and how to perform it, I guess I question how necessary it is when the body could be used to actually save lives via organ donation.
To the NSA official reading this: Does the toilet paper in your office start with "We the people"?
Jun 21, 13 at 1:27pm ^re: Donating Your Body to Science
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