Why you should consider donating your body

Shutterstock.com/ Komsan Loonprom

When I die I want my body to be used for something good not to lie in the ground and decay. That is why I have been an organ donor since I got my first driving license. They asked if I wanted to tick the box that said donate organs and I said yes. It was the easiest piece of altruistic work that I have ever done. However, I have since learned that there is more that can be done. While it is good to be an organ donor, it is better to be a body donor.

From my perspective, being an organ donor is a no brainer. Whatever kills you may leave a number of vital and perfectly usable organs behind. If this is the case your death could save an untold number of lives. The most common organs donated after death are the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, small intestines, pancreas and kidneys. All of these have the potential to save lives. In addition, you can donate your tissues such as skin, veins, heart valves, tendons, ligaments and bones with the cornea the most commonly transplanted tissue. Imagine giving someone the gift of sight or a heart who otherwise would have no option. Your death may save lives.

People can donate organs at any age. So don’t think that because you are in your 70s or 80s your organs are now useful to no-body (pun intended). The reality is very different. One in three people who donate organs is over the age of 50. There are records on file of an organ donor aged 92 who saved the life of a 70-year-old woman.

While this is true the reality is that the older you get the less likely you are going to be suitable to be an organ donor. While some of us live incredibly healthy lives and may have a chance, organs will start to work a little less well as we age, no matter what. If your organs are not suitable to be donated you can still make a difference. You can donate your body.

Often people think that by donating organs they are donating their body but that is not the case. The process to donate your body is a little lengthier. You have to go through an actual medical examination while still alive to ensure you are suitable to donate your body. Once accepted your body will be used either in a teaching environment or for research. Both require full bodies. 

Let’s forget about altruism for a moment. The reality is that funerals are expensive. If you want to pay for a funeral it can be anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000. This is an expense you may not want. By donating your body to science you don’t have any large bills to pay. That is already a weight off your mind.

When you then add the fact that you could help find the cure for a disease, prepare the next generation of doctors or help solve some scientific question that has puzzled generations, it seems an easy decision.

Of course, many people choose to be buried for religious or family reasons. Not having a body to visit in a graveyard can be tough for remaining family members and so this decision should be taken as a family not alone. If your body is used for science, once finished they will cremate the body and return it to the family with a note of what studies your body helped with. If that helps then it may still be an option. If not, then that is ok. Not everyone is in a position to donate. This means that those that are should give it some serious thought.