Thinking about donating your body to science?
Many people avoid facing up to funeral costs with the statement: “it’s ok, I’m donating my body to medical science”. But what does body donation actually involve, and how easy is it to do?
What is body donation?
It is a formal commitment to have your body given to a medical school when you die, to be used for research, education or for training medics and surgeons.
There’s more to donating your body to science than telling someone to hand you over to a medical school when the time comes. There’s some paperwork involved too.
How do I donate my body to medical science?
- Find a medical school in your local area. Donations are only accepted locally due to transport costs. You can search for a school using your postcode
- Complete and sign two copies of a consent form, which will also have to be witnessed by a friend, GP, executor or next of kin
- Return one form to the medical school
- File the other form with your Will or legal papers. You can also update your Will with your wish to donate your body to science
- Inform your next of kin and executors, so they know what to do when the time comes. Be prepared to discuss your decision with your loved ones, who may be surprised by your wishes
Can I be certain the medical school will accept my body?
No, the medical school could decline your body for a number of reasons:
- You have had organs removed because you are an organ donor
- You have undergone a post-mortem examination
- You have had recent surgery
- You have an infection which could be transmitted
- If you have been dead for more than six days
- Some medical schools may be unable to accept body donations during holiday periods, such as Christmas.
The medical school may want to examine your body before deciding whether to accept it.
What happens if my body is declined?
If your body isn’t accepted, your loved ones will need to make alternative arrangements. This is an important reason why you shouldn’t see body donation as a way to avoid funeral costs.
Does it cost anything to donate your body to science?
The medical school may ask the deceased person’s estate to contribute to the cost of transporting the body to the school. Contact your local medical school directly to find out what charges, if any, may apply.
What happens when the medical school is finished with my body?
When your body is no longer needed, the medical school will arrange for your body to be cremated. If you wish, your ashes can be returned to your loved ones.
There’s no denying that donating your body to medical science is a fantastic way to leave a lasting legacy. After all, you’ll be helping to train our future doctors and surgeons. But with no guarantees your body will be accepted for use in this way, it doesn’t make sense to see body donation as an alternative to paying for a funeral.
If you’ve found this article interesting and are thinking about what you’d like to happen when you die, our free Perfect Send off planner is a simple way to document and record your wishes. Or for help with what to do when someone dies, use our simple, easy-to follow guide.