I Want to Donate My Body to Science

Note: I write two blogs on a regular basis now, one here and one about Kickstarter here. Both blogs are automatically shared via my personal Twitter account when I publish a new entry. It just occurred to me that my Kickstarter readers who follow me on Twitter are probably confused several times a week when they see back-to-back Twitter posts that say, for example, “Kickstarter Lesson #62: Early Bird Pledge Levels” immediately followed a few minutes later by “I Want to Donate My Body to Science.” I’m amused by this.

leonardo-davinciYesterday I was talking to a friend who is a first-year med student. Currently he spends most of his time with dead bodies (in an anatomy class, not for leisure), learning how the inside of every body is both the same and different. It’s the foundation of every med school program.

Without bodies to study, med school students would have to rely on plastic models and textbooks to learn about your inner organs. Would you want a doctor to perform open-heart surgery on you if he or she had only ever put a scalpel in a doll?

In addition to academic pursuits, parts of bodies can be used in other humans. Someday your eyes could give someone sight, your heart someone life, your liver someone…liver? What does the liver do? I think it filters out toxins. Something like that.

My point is, people can use your body parts when you no longer need them.

Now, I’m not trying to convince anyone else to give their body to science. I just want to make it clear and official on my blog–which will probably outlast me unless the internet dies in 2094–that I want to donate my body to science. If I’m already dead, that is. If I wake up in an ice bath tomorrow morning with an incision in my side, I’m blaming you, readers.

Hopefully this is very clear. When I die, I don’t need my body anymore. I want these baby blues to find a good home. I want my hairy toes to help someone fill out their sneakers. And I want med school students to look inside my chest cavity and be surprised to find a Ken Griffey Jr. rookie Upper Deck card encased in plastic next to my appendix.

What about you? What do you want people to do with your body when you’re done with it?

4 thoughts on “I Want to Donate My Body to Science”

  1. I’m registered with the state as an organ donor, I keep a donor card in my wallet, and I’ve made it clear to my family on many occassions that they should make sure the doctors take everything from me that they can use when I die. I’d much rather my body help someone else than rot away in the ground where it’s not doing anyone any good.

    I feel a little weirded out by donating my body to science, but I’m not totally against it. How long does a med student usually work on a single body? What happens to it afterwards? These are all things I’d want to know about before signing up!

    • Well, I know that the cadavers that used are to be cremated when they are falling apart too much and not “fresh” enough for the students to see all the connecting stuff clearly. I don’t remember how “old” the cadavers were but I think they have been there for a good couple of years before I took the class. They were named “Fred” and “Thelma”.

  2. I can only speak for VA but here, you’d donate to the State Anatomical Program. VA is whole-body donation so your whole body will go to an academic program (i.e. We don’t sell parts…it’s all or nothing). There are never enough bodies to accommodate the requests so you can be assured you’d be used. An added bonus is that you will be cremated at no cost to your or your family when the program is done with you. Could be a week, it could be months but it wont cost your family anything and they’ll eventually get your ashes. It’s something I would definitely consider doing. My dad has a relatively uncommon and not well-studied condition (ankylosing spondylitis) and he’s going to donate himself in hopes that scientists can learn from him.


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