Savvy Senior: How to save money by donating your body to science

Each year, an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Americans donate their whole body, after death, to medical facilities throughout the country for research. It can spare family the cost of burial, but there are a few things you should know.
BY JIM MILLER For The Oklahoman Published: November 20, 2012
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DEAR SAVVY SENIOR:

What can you tell me about body donations? With little money to spare, I'm looking for a cheap way to die and have heard that donating my body to science is free, not to mention it benefits medical research.

Old and Poor

DEAR OLD:

If you're looking to eliminate your final farewell expense and help advance medical research, donating your body to science is a great option to consider. Here's what you should know.

Body donations

Each year, an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Americans donate their whole body, after death, to medical facilities throughout the country to be used in medical research projects, anatomy lessons and surgical practice.

After using your body, these facilities will then provide free cremation – which typically costs $600 to $3,000 – and will either bury or scatter your ashes in a local cemetery or return them to your family, usually within a year or two.

Here are a few other tidbits you need to know to help you decide on whether whole-body donation is right for you.

• Organ donors excluded: Most programs require that you donate your whole body in its entirety. So if you want to be an organ donor, you won't qualify to be a whole body donor too. You'll have to choose.

• Not all bodies are accepted: If, for example, your body has been badly damaged in a car accident or if you're morbidly obese, you many not qualify.

• Body transporting is covered: Most programs will pay to transport your body to their facility unless your body must be moved from out of state.

• No special requests: Most programs won't allow you to donate your body for a specific purpose – you give them the body and they decide how to use it.

• Funeral services are not covered: Most programs will allow your family to conduct any final services they wish before taking custody of your body, but they won't pay for it.



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