Donating your body to science

Recently my friend RHC proudly showed me his “full body donor” card. He carries it next to his driver’s license, to be sure that in case of his sudden death, his wishes are carried out. Yes, he wants to offer his body “to science”.

RHC and I have known each other for decades, long enough to experience some losses and to have discussed aging, death and funerals. A few months ago, he mentioned his intention to donate his body. I asked who knew about it. He said he had told his brother, but had made no specific arrangement.

I told him that was not enough. A potential “full body donor” needs to make an arrangement with a hospital or medical school.

How do I know? Several members of a local family have donated their bodies. One survivor mentioned it to me at the time of a death – she supported her husband’s decision and regarded the donation process as a convenience. Cremated remains would be returned to her in a few months.

The teaching hospital to which the body was sent holds a memorial gathering annually. Families of body donors are invited to join in honoring the deceased and receiving public thanks from the hospital. Some people find comfort in this.

Why am I putting this in my blog?? Because some reader has probably thought about body donation, but not gotten around to making arrangements. If you Google “full body donation + your state”, you will find all the information you need. Or maybe you’ll decide against it, and can put the issue aside.

While we’re on the subject, have you taken care of the other things every adult should do in order to make your passing easier for your loved ones? Is your will up to date? What about medical care directives? Have you left, perhaps informally or in a codicil to your will, information about where to FIND your important papers?

Does this sound morbid? It’s not! Steps you take to help your family in the future will probably make you feel good.


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