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This is for me. I have decided that I want to donate mine (or any part of it that might be useful) when I am done with it. Even though I expect to continue to need it for many years I want to start looking into it.


My husband donated his brain for dementia research so I'm not entirely new to the concept, but I've only recently made this decision for myself. It would be good to hear from someone who has handled this for a loved one.

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Here is a summary of what I've learned, with your input. Perhaps it will be helpful to someone searching this topic in the future.

1) Organ and tissue donation for transplant is separate from whole body donation. Some (all?) states support registration for transplant donors with DMV and have a donor designation on the driver's license. That designation does not apply to whole body donation.
2) There are a few national organizations that either handle the process themselves or have a network of connections they can call upon. ScienceCare has been mentioned on this thread. They have centers in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Miami, Chicago and Philadelphia, and network partners elsewhere.
3) Location makes a difference. Transporting bodies is expensive. If the person dies far from the center where they are registered it may be best to use a service near where the death occurred.
4) Not all programs that accept whole body donations are the same! They can vary on the following items and others:
a) The distance they will transport the body at no cost.
b) Whether organ/tissue donation can occur first.
c) Body conditions for acceptance (weight, certain diseases, missing organs, etc.)
d) Whether they will use the body themselves or pass it on to another center with a need for the particular condition.
e) Exactly how the cremains are handled.
f) Whether or not the family will receive a report of results.

5. They are not all the same, but because location matters, you will not have a big range of services to choose from. At least understand how the one you choose works, and let your family know, if applicable.
6. Registering does not guarantee your body will be accepted when the time comes. This could be from the condition of the body or the needs of the institution. Best for family to have a backup plan. Also family members can object and stop the proceedings.
7. I have money set aside for my own last expenses. For me this isn't about finances, but it may be a good alternative when no funds are available for cremation, if the body is suitable for an institution's current needs.
8. Some programs allow for an open-casket viewing before the body is turned over to them. Some do not.
9. Any expenses for a funeral, memorial service, celebration of life party, etc. are the family's responsibility.

Thanks for your research help and particularly information about family experiences.

I am definitely going to register with one of the two institutions available to me. I'll take a closer look at how they are different, first.
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For what it is worth, my DH has the corneas of a 24 year old boy that died in a car wreck. His family donated the corneas to the Kansas Eye Bank. My husband was in a fire. He has his job and his vision back thanks to that family's donation. So even if you don't have a whole body to donate to science, you still have parts that can change people's lives. I guess I never thought about donating your whole body for science. Y'all gave me something to think about tonight instead of my mother!
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My mother wanted to donate her eyes to science (she had RP). They were very kind and respectful. I also had a close friend who donated her body to science. Again, they were very respectful and it didn't cost the family anything.
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I would think organ donation would be more beneficial. Have you considered that?
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My SIL, who is still living and is 62 years of age has gone through the proper channels with the Motor Vehicle Administration. Start there.
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Thanks, James55. The two main programs for whole body donation in my state seem to be the U of M or Mayo Clinic. While I was finding that out I found a very helpful resource. It is a database of whole body donation programs, state by state, maintained by the University of Florida.

anatbd.acb.med.ufl.edu/usprograms/
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Yes, go to the Anatomical Program in your State. You can register and donate your body. They will make all arrangements with you. I did it for myself.
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I had a friend who did this but do not have any details. It is clearly a good option if you agree with it and can't afford the cost of a funeral. Memorials can be as cheap or expensive as one wishes.
For myself I am still uncertain. Hubby wan't the real expensive deal.
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I only knew one person who did this many years ago, and I heard at the end when they're done with your body you get a free cremation. I don't know how the process goes, but somehow the right authorities need to be made aware when you die, especially for those who have no family. I'm not sure how everything is done for people without family but as for me personally, it's definitely not for me.
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I have thought of donating for many years. Mom wanted to donate her brain, that is more difficult and would have cost for the process. Whole bodies would be much easier.

Google "Over my dead body" a cover story out of Colorado Springs. Interesting read.
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Both my husband’s parents wanted this, although it wasn’t possible for his father as there had to be an autopsy for medical negligence reasons – he died shortly after their joint entry to the facility and the admitting doctor had changed his medications. My husband didn’t tell the rest of the family what had happened to avoid stress. In each case, the family had a small get-together at the facility, which was very similar to the same thing at the place where my own mother had been cremated. My husband’s parents remains were eventually cremated and returned to us, and scattered by the family in the ocean close to where they lived their married lives. Our University has a memorial service each year, which is viewed as compulsory for med students and optional for families, and which is deeply respectful. I found the choice a bit challenging, and preferred my mother’s way, but then many people find cremation more challenging than burial (and vice versa). It is a very reasonable option.
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I suggest you talk to a funeral home or 3, and see what they can help you with. When my husband and I moved into a senior facility, we had to have our funeral plans made in advance. I called around and found that Legacy is a chain with low cost options. They were wonderful, explained all the options, and we prepaid our choices. We are donating our bodies to science, recommended by the man at Legacy. It's doubtful that they will let me donate my body parts because of a cancer I had so it will go directly to science. I feel it will do somebody some good after I'm gone, even if it's just to teach something to the student docs. Then they will cremate it and return the remains to my son. Same for my husband. Then we have requested scattering the ashes at sea although we are eligible for space in a national cemetery. We have requested no memorials. BTW, we don't have all our parts, and were told that did not make any difference.

For the person concerned about the lady who did not have a memorial for her husband, she could hold a memorial or celebration of life at any time. You do not need to wait for the ashes. Many of the memorials we have attended had only a photo of the deceased, sometimes not even that. Personally, I have been so turned off by the behavior of people attending the funeral memorials of family members that we decided we would let them make their inane remarks in their own homes, not at what should be a respectful event, so we will not have "funerals."
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My husband and I have both signed up with New York University medical school to donate our bodies. We did this after we read an article in the New York Times stating that medical schools sometimes don't return the remains after using the body for anatomy. We are not religious and don't want the body returned to us. So we called the medical school and signed up. After my husband passed away earlier this year, all I needed to do was to call the number on the donor card. A funeral director came and collected the body several hours later. We had zero funeral expenses. I think this was wonderful.  Incidentally, I  tried to donate our corneas--but we were rejected as too old.  I guess you are never too old for anatomy lessons.
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Thank you all for such upbeat and practical comments!

I hadn't thought about the need for "whole" cadavers. Mine will be missing a gall bladder and a couple of parathyroid nodules (so far). I'll check into which kind of program might be able to use it in that shape.

My main motive is to "do good." That it also saves money is a bonus for my heirs.

I've already announced my plan on our family Facebook page, and nobody seemed bothered. I got a few likes!

The presence of the actual ashes would not matter to any of my current family members. Of course by then (I hope) there will be a whole new batch of family members.

I'd like to think that cadavers are treated respectfully. And so I will. There's nothing to stop me from thinking whatever gives me comfort, right up to the end, right?
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I don't know but a lot of people here have switched to Cemetery Services and no Funeral Homes. I had to do that with Dad because of his being Jewish - cheapest funeral ever at $2500 since no embalming either.

I think Cremation might be even less $$. The last quote I heard was $1500.

My DH cremated wife #1 and said it is ok to do for him as well. I already have the plot and headstone and burying ashes wouldn't be difficult.

One night of viewing in Funeral Parlor used to be $1500 and that was on top of everything else.

It's good you're thinking of this. Ask the Funeral Director for quotes and options.
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Having taken gross anatomy and pathology with medical students when I pursued a PhD in microbiology, I knew right then I did NOT want to donate my body to medical science. Many medical students are not very respectful no matter what you hear. Also, I am missing uterus and ovaries so they might not want it anyway. Nowadays there are realistic plastic facsimiles (that don't need stinky formaldehyde) so that numerous medical schools are using those. I would be happy to donate any organ that would be of use, but not my old body for students to make fun of.
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A member of my support group did this for/with her husbands body. It has been 4 years and she has not had any real "closure" no body returned as of yet, no service, no memorial.
If memorial, cremation, return of the body in a timely manner is important to you I would ask what the turn around might be if you do donate. If it is not important then donate as it is one of the ways students can learn.
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I found this web site in 2015, I gave up my job to move in and care for my dad.... he had had an emergency Siegmoidectomy and Sepsis.....after 5 years of me and his GP trying to convince him of having an elective op.

The hospital consultant and other Oncologists said he wouldn't live past 3 months.

Thanks to this awesome carer (me) he got so much better, started driving again, chopping logs, fitting a new kitchen etc....

He had met a female companion through a dating site some years before and I really did try to be nice to her.... my dad was extremely generous, over £100,000 & other gifts not just to her but her family as well.

Whilst I was doing his colostomy bag morning noon and night, she wouldn't even was a dish.

My dad never gave me a penny towards shopping or caring for him.... and after 8 months, as he was now on his feet .... I returned to my own home. I have 2 sisters but no help came from them.

Dad always wanted his body to go to the Human Tissue Authority..... but because of the stoma, they said they wouldn't accept it.... my dad was convinced that I'd something to do with persuading them to take this stance...

My dad died a few months ago, he had a humanist funeral, he had no faith... so it suited him.

It wasn't a grand affair but the British Legion played the Last Post for the old sailor who'd seen active service in WW2....

I miss my grumpy old pa...
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My mother always wanted to donate her body to science. In 2009 I found MedCure.com (1-866-560-2525) through a friend. When she passed last year I called. Everyone involved was wonderful. No charges to the family at all, we had her ashes within 2 weeks along with one Death Certificate. Her body was used in 4 different studies aimed at reducing the pain involved in joint surgeries and teaching techniques. It took nearly a year to get the letter about specifics of her contribution. She was involved in both national and international studies. She would have been very satisfied with the outcome. I have decided to use MedCure for myself one day and recommend their services without hesitation.
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No personal experience, but I will share that when my daughter started the college she now attends we toured the medical cadaver lab. It wasn’t at all like whatever I had in mind that it might be. It was peaceful, respectful, serene. The professor over it explained that bodies came to them through donation, acquired from a large medical university about 4 hours away. The students are taught from the first to think of the cadavers as their own grandparents and to exercise the utmost care for them. They are allowed in the lab to work 24 hours a day with video cameras always recording to ensure due respect is always there. After a year of study the bodies are cremated and the families are given the option of return or not. For those who don’t want cremated remains returned there is a memorial service that though optional for the students, the professor said they invariably attend. He said they always want a time to say goodbye. The lab was flawlessly clean and a place of calm, nothing creepy or upsetting (yes, I know I wasn’t there when actual work was being done) I came away feeling that I wouldn’t be upset to see a family member or myself use this option.
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Check out www.sciencecare.com My friend's mother used them and they were so pleased that they signed up. They're in many states. No cost.

My LO had an infectious disease, so his body can't be donated. Wanted to let others know that I've made and prepaid for his cremation expenses, which was around $1400, including the container. What you may not know, is that the funeral home's prices aren't set in stone. I got several quotes, and the funeral home that I actually preferred matched the lowest price. It was very comforting to have it completed, and they have all of his bio info for the death certificate and obituary. I urge you to do that. Now I need to get back there and do it for myself!
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If the deceased or the family did not want to donate the entire body, the corneas can be donated. The corneas will be accepted even if the deceased had implants. Ask ahead, if you have time.
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Sciencecare.com is amazing. Body pickup, cremation, memorial and deliver the ashes to next of kin. Absolutely no cost. You get a summary of the research of which you can open or not. Wonderful people.
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I am donating my body to the Philadelphia School of Osteopathic Medicine here in Atlanta. They will create the body at no cost
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I'm on the other side of the fence. We watched as they came for my sister's body and it was not easy. She was only 50. I am a living donor, so I'm not against donation of organs. Thinking about how someone will be cutting up my sister was very painful. You hope you get back the same persons ashes but who really knows. Remember and respect your family in this process because they will be the ones left behind to mourn and work through the process.
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Jeanne, I've done the paperwork on myself, which was easy. Check your state's programs.

I'm donating my body to Wright State University's anatomical gift program. No cost to family for transport. The family knows what I want. I printed off the papers right on the website needing signatures of two people that were not blood relatives (actually a brother-in-law and a niece's husband), mailed them in and very quickly received the card to carry in my billfold. I had the option of letting family pick up the cremains or having them scattered on the medical school grounds, where there's a very nice little cemetery in the woods and a huge sign with body donors' names. They have a yearly ceremony there for family members and send them an invitation. My uncle did this, and everything went smoothly. I actually recognized several names I knew on the memorial sign. They've even recorded the yearly memorial services online that can be seen on youtube, very nice ceremony:
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=wright+state+university+body+donation
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My father died in 2012. He had signed the papers to donate his body to the Oklahoma University Body Donor Program located in Norman, Oklahoma, many years before that.

When he died, I notified the program director. He notified a local funeral home, and Dad's body was removed to the funeral home, and sent on to the university. There was no cost to our family.

Before his body was used by med students, there was a luncheon for the families of the deceased, and I got to meet the students that would be studying Dad's body. They asked me all types of questions about Dad and our family. They wanted to know about Dad's life, his likes and dislikes, etc. They were a great group of students, and they made me feel like Dad's contribution was very much appreciated. When their coursework with Dad's body was over (approximately a year later), there was a memorial ceremony for the families and again I got to visit with the students and Dad's contribution was recognized. It was very moving. Dad's ashes were taken care of by the university. (Dad could have had them sent back home to us, but he didn't sign up for that.) This was such a positive experience that three other family members and I have already done the paperwork to donate our bodies when the time comes.
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My sister who had scleroderma with a lot of organ involvement donated her body to Robert woods in nj aboutb90 miles from her home at her request. There were transporting fees that were a little pricey. They do return her ashes. Hopefully they will learn something about the origins of the disease to help someone else.
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My mom had arranged to donate her body to the medical school across the state from where she lived -- if you phone the medical school, they can direct you to the right department, it wasn't difficult in terms of paperwork.

Then she died in another state. The next morning I got on the phone with that medical school and then said rather than go to the expense of shipping her body, just call the medical school nearest us (which they named for me).

There ARE some restrictions. Cadavers for the anatomy class need to be complete -- no organ-removing surgeries -- and there are a couple of diseases they won't take (the infectious ones, if I recall correctly).

They told us we would receive her ashes in one to two YEARS ... which was accurate.

The total cost to us was under $200 (this was in 2002) for transportation. We had a fine memorial service at the time, and were invited to the medical school's memorial service at the end of her 'cadaver' year.

A similar experience in a different state when my in-laws died, a year or two apart.
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Does anyone know if there are any costs accruing to the family for the return of the remains, or actually any costs at all?
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