People donate their bodies to science for all sorts of reasons, but a general societal unease about death and dying (and what comes after, both literally and figuratively) has a tendency to put people off broaching the topic altogether.
Thankfully, we have National Geographic to shed some light on this very personal decision, and the responses are illuminating.
The National Geographic Twitter account posted the following article on January 27, asking social media users to share their "primary reason" for considering donating their bodies to science.
If you have ever considered donating your body to science, what is your primary reason? https://t.co/xULrhuBnir— National Geographic (@National Geographic)1548608643.0
National Geographic notes, in response to those who've asked how they can actually donate their bodies to science:
"The United States does not have a centralized governing agency for whole-body donations, though the American Association of Anatomists has come up with a policy for how bodies should be handled when they're donated. For instance, the policy states that donations must follow all state and local laws, and "donation literature should describe all possible uses of donated bodies at that institution."
"Generally, these institutions do not charge for body donation, though the University of Alabama asks for $750 to cover the costs of transportation, preservation, maintenance, and ultimately cremation. For-profit tissue brokers also exist. It is legal to sell bodies and body parts in the U.S., and some people choose to use brokers because they market their services and will cover the costs of claiming and transporting the body. Of course, then they will go on to sell the body parts, and the system is not closely regulated.
"Certain physical conditions at the time of death can prevent acceptance to a whole-body donation program, including obesity, communicable diseases, jaundice, severe trauma to the body, and decomposition. Organ donations are handled differently from whole-body donations, and often times, an individual cannot be both an organ donor and a whole-body donor."
"To find out who you can contact to make a body donation in your state, check out this list maintained by the Anatomical Board of the State of Florida."
There's a hint of bureaucracy to many of the decisions we make, but donating our bodies can prove invaluable to not just well-established scientists, but also students gleaning lessons from actual human beings. The "whys" are fascinating.
Check out some of these responses. Sometimes the decision to donate your body is as simple as this...
@NatGeo I don’t need it after I’m gone, and don’t care what happens to the husk. Might as well be useful.— Rowan (@Rowan)1548610115.0
@NatGeo I love how everyone is so pure and "doing it for science." In high school, I had a class field trip to a bo… https://t.co/IexZ2CnAlC— Catsupy (commissions open!) (@Catsupy (commissions open!))1548823241.0
...and even this...
@NatGeo To continue to haunt medical students after I die, of course. Also, for #science. :) There is no substitut… https://t.co/FAyOBPfkYO— Sheyna Gifford (@Sheyna Gifford)1548620805.0
...but the other reasons are equally revealing.
@NatGeo As a student I was so humbled by and grateful for the bodies we studied. It was an indispensable part of my… https://t.co/nTTBORoFEb— Christi Garcia (@Christi Garcia)1548624707.0
@NatGeo I have a genetic connective tissue disorder, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. I’d donate my body if beneficial for research or teaching.— Catie Mary (@Catie Mary)1548622755.0
@NatGeo Sure, education. My dad died of dementia and his brain was sent to London for examination and students. Any… https://t.co/1d3PB8e5R1— Emma Jane Neal (@Emma Jane Neal)1548618746.0
@NatGeo I do not believe in an afterlife. So I may as well make myself useful to the future of mankind!— Chloe (@Chloe)1548847098.0
@NatGeo My grandmother, a good Scottish woman, donated hers to the same uni my grandfather donated himself to 35-od… https://t.co/xbWpk2cv6K— 𝙰𝚗𝚗𝚒𝚎 𝙷𝚊𝚛𝚝 (@𝙰𝚗𝚗𝚒𝚎 𝙷𝚊𝚛𝚝)1548820767.0
@NatGeo I played football for many years and had multiple concussions so for CTE— . (@.)1548820639.0
@NatGeo I am a long term survivor of a recurring melanoma. Just lucky. I have given some samples already, but I thi… https://t.co/m3slyJkP2E— SailorGirl (@SailorGirl)1548793465.0
@NatGeo 7 tumors. Brain tumor cranio survivor. Agent orange exp, childhood diseases b/c of. Post cranio revealed he… https://t.co/NynQH20I5r— ddsnorth ™ (@ddsnorth ™)1548820358.0
Have you considered donating your body to science? Tell us why in the comments below!