What Happens When You Donate a Body to Medicine — Science — Industry — Research — How to Get a Free Cremation

Rule Number One: Make Your Choices and Get Things Done Before the Death Has Occurred.
This page is not for everyone. It serves up the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And it is not gentle about it. Here is what happens and how to donate a body to get a free cremation.


How to Get a Free Cremation by Making a Whole Body Donation

There is a fairly new industry now in existence. It is the business of whole body donations. This is an information article for anyone who is considering making a whole body donation of either themselves or of a loved one. It is the industry standard a whole body donation entitles the donor to free cremation, free transportation, and generally free everything else relating to the cremation.

Overview

It is illegal for you to sell your body or that of a loved one. However, if you make a whole body donation; the company will pay all transportation costs, the cremation fee, the cost of the urn, and all other incidental costs. This is the industry standard, but each company may be different; so it is imperative to read the contract to be sure.

The company will work with one or more local funeral homes. The funeral home will pick up and transport the body. The company will make all the arrangements. Once the body is at the funeral home, the company will make a final determination as to whether to accept it. If they decide to accept it, the body will then be transported to the company's facilities; often this will be in another state. After one to two months, the remaining remains will be cremated and returned to you or scattered at sea.

If the company rejects the body at time of death, the body stays at whatever funeral home the company happened to have selected. You are then liable for whatever the funeral home wishes to charge you for the transportation costs, cremation costs, etc. This seldom happens; each whole-body-donation company has their own rules; so be sure to read the contract.

Not Just Organ Donation... The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The company will inform you the donation of your body or that of a loved one will contribute to the causes of science, education and research. In actuality this means the body or its various parts can and will be used for practically anything. You are not allowed to restrict how the body of you or your loved one may be used.

Once your body or the body of your loved one is at the company's main facility, the sales frenzy begins. Although it is illegal to sell a body or any of its parts, the whole-body-donation companies have found a way around this. As an example, suppose the company gets an order from a customer for a liver; the company will donate the liver, but will charge fees for everything related to it; such as extraction, preparation, and transportation.

First and foremost is the use of dead body parts to cure and heal the living. This is not the usual harvesting of organs immediately after death. Cadaver materials such as skin and bones can be processed into products and materials which are sold to hospitals to treat patients.

The next best scenario is when the cadaver's organs and tissues are harvested and sent to various institutions for medical research. This is the image most of us picture and is indeed many times the case.

However, the company has many different customers and many different types of sales orders...
  • Medical teaching facilities, especially colleges and universities, are steady customers of whole-body-donation companies. Your body or that of your loved one may very well end up at one of these institutions. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Contributing to the education of future doctors and researchers is always a worthy cause. It is possible, however, you or your loved one may end up as the guest of honor at a frat party. Another less pleasant scenario is when the body is chosen as a semester-long project. This is where the body lays on a table for a few months and is gradually cut and picked apart piece by piece; usually rock music will be playing in the background as the students crack jokes.
  • The United States Military is an avid customer of whole-body-donation companies. The military likes to use the bodies for researching and testing their new protective gear. You or your loved one may also be used to test the destructive attributes of new ammunition or explosives. No doubt other government agencies are also customers. One can only speculate as to which agencies. And what the bodies are used for.
  • Many non-medical biotechnology and other companies are also regular customers of the whole-body-donation industry.
  • Believe it or not, most of the above scenarios do not cause people to reject the idea of whole body donation. However this last scenario does seem to be a deal-breaker for many people. It has to do with the following sentence you will find in the Donor Consent Form Contract: “I am consenting the body to potential segmentation and disarticulation.”. In other words, the company rips the body apart; piece by piece and day after day. Here is a typical scenario: Minnesota orders an arm; it is removed and sent. Next day Nevada orders a leg; it is done. Sooner or later the inevitable order for a head floats in; off it goes. Soon all that remains is the torso (probably minus the organs). This is not the image of a loved one many people want to carry around for the rest of their lives.

Whole Body Donations and Free Cremations

- The Hopeful Future...

The Future Is Now...?

The purchasing company can do anything they want with the body, but as the industry matures it is hoped someday you will have the right to specify the fate of yourself or your loved one. Hopefully, the time could be soon. In fact, since the industry has been around for awhile; it could literally happen any day now. Be sure to ask what options are available and if there are any restrictions you can impose. Do not take anyone's word for anything. Ask for the contract. Inform the salesperson you will read it and get back to them. If they try to make excuses or otherwise object, then probably do not consider that company as one of your possible choices.

Rule Number One: Make Your Choices and Get Things Done Before the Death Has Occurred.*
*This is the voice of experience talking. When the time comes and depending on circumstances, you will then only be faced with having to make that phone call; everything else will then be automatically taken care of. And as a hospice worker told me the following day: when your body wants to cry; let it. And she was not just talking about that day, but future days as well. When your body wants to cry, let it. Don't fight it, just let it. And do not care if other people happen to be around at the time. The less you fight it, the sooner you will heal.