Whole body donation
Whole body donation followed by cremation - Whole body donation can be an option that suits some families. Donating a body to a university or educational institution can benefit society by helping advance medical research and education. However, be very cautious deciding where to donate the body; find out where the body goes and with whom you are actually dealing. Please note that not all human bodies are eligible for whole body donation. Eligibility is always addressed on a case by case basis and your family should have an alternate plan, should the donation not be accepted.
Realize the difference between use of the body for education and research because they can be vastly different from one another:
- Education – Use of the body for education generally implies the body is used in a higher education program or continuing education of experienced surgeons and physicians. The body is generally kept in-tact at all times and following the educational use, cremated in its entirety and returned to the family. You might expect this process to take one to two years.
- Research – Use of the body for research generally implies the body is dismembered and various parts are used for research by private industry conducting research. Depending on the type of program you have chosen, the various body parts may or may not be returned to be reunited with the rest of the donor for cremation and the family may get some cremated remains returned to them after the research. Private industry is known to pay vast amounts of money for body parts and, financially, this type of donation program stands to benefit greatly from your generous donation. Unfortunately, that financial benefit is not shared with the family that offers the donation.
There are only two education oriented body donation programs in Oregon. Each of these programs will pay the transportation cost to facilitate a whole body donation. It is our recommendation that you call each of these programs directly and ask them specific questions about the program, use of the body and the cremation process following.
Oregon Health & Science University - “Body Donation Program”
Western University of Health Sciences - “Willed Body Program”
This is very important information regarding Whole Body Donation
Others, who claim to be “whole body donation programs”, are actually businesses that dismember, or dissect, the body and actually “lease” body parts to purchasers throughout the country. They call this process “Tissue Procurement.” The leased body parts are not generally returned. The unused body parts (usually only 15-25% of the body) are cremated (generally by a third party) and returned to the family. Some of these businesses even go so far as to advertise “Free Cremation” in order to get families to donate the body to their business. Again, educate yourself and do not agree to anything that does not meet your family’s needs or desires.