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Donating your body to science?
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design219
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Feb 22, 2012, 10:51 AM
 
When I was a little kid I heard that phrase and thought it sounded pretty neat. As an adult I'm starting to believe that means becoming a practice corpse for med students (which I guess is very necessary).

Does anybody really know what it means, what else might happen, and how to do it? And are any of you up for it?

I've been thinking cremation, because graveyards seem like a waste of space. But maybe this is the least wasteful of all.
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Jawbone54
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Feb 22, 2012, 01:02 PM
 
Read this. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. The book is hilarious, creepy, and definitely fun.

I'm an organ donor, but I'm probably skipping the whole science thing.
     
Person Man
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Feb 22, 2012, 01:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by design219 View Post
When I was a little kid I heard that phrase and thought it sounded pretty neat. As an adult I'm starting to believe that means becoming a practice corpse for med students (which I guess is very necessary).

Does anybody really know what it means, what else might happen, and how to do it? And are any of you up for it?

I've been thinking cremation, because graveyards seem like a waste of space. But maybe this is the least wasteful of all.
It mostly means donating one's body to a medical school for use in the Gross Anatomy labs. Most medical schools have donation programs. This newspaper article about Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine's Willed Body Program (where I went to medical school) does a good job of explaining what it entails.

Still Giving in Death

I can tell you that the cadavers used in our Gross Anatomy labs were treated with the utmost respect. Horseplay or treating a cadaver in a disrespectful manner is not tolerated. We learned the first name, occupation, age, and cause of death of our cadaver. At the end of the year the cadavers are cremated and a nondenominational memorial service is held which is attended by the students and families of the people who donated their bodies.

It is a real privilege to be able to explore and learn about the human body in such a manner and an experience that I will never forget thanks to the generosity of the people who donated their bodies.
     
Jawbone54
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Feb 22, 2012, 01:36 PM
 
Every student/professor/scientist/tester referenced in Stiff pretty much said exactly the same thing as Person Man.
     
Person Man
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Feb 22, 2012, 01:58 PM
 
I'm not a super religious person, but the closest I've ever had to a religious experience was when we dissected the heart. When I held our group's cadaver's heart I felt an overwhelming sense of awe at the fact that there I was, actually holding a real human heart in my hands. Nearly moved me to tears.

I was not the only one in our class to have such an experience over some aspect of the body or another.

As to the OP's question about being up for it ourselves? I can say that after touring the Gross Anatomy Lab and learning about OU's Willed Body Program on Parents' Day my mother knew that's what she will be doing with her body and I'm pretty certain that it's what I want to do with mine.
     
Thorzdad
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Feb 22, 2012, 02:17 PM
 
Yes, donating your body, in most cases, means becoming a cadaver for use in medical school training.
I've considered it, and went so far as to download the necessary papers for donating my body. I haven't gone any further than that, though. I'm leaning toward donating. It makes a lot more sense than burial, and would save my family the cost of either a burial or cremation.
     
andi*pandi
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Feb 22, 2012, 02:31 PM
 
My great-aunt did this, she has a catholic mass one year later when her remains were cremated and there was a burial.

I would consider it, but try to avoid thinking about such things.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Feb 22, 2012, 06:07 PM
 
I think the details are slightly different in the UK. IIRC, they removed the heads quite often and the cadavers used were kept in storage for something like 10 years and distributed at schools some distance from where they lived/died. This was all done to prevent a student from recognising their cadaver which I gather happened once. The head removal was also something to do with having access to human brains and BSE or something.
Also, all cadavers used are over a certain age when they died. They don't use anyone considered to have died prematurely. Seems overly sentimental to me but there you are.

They certainly do treat the remains with the utmost respect, though I did hear a story where some first years vexed their professor for a few seconds by borrowing an organ from one body and installing it temporarily in another. I didn't hear of anyone being punished for that prank.

The other classic cadaver story is the one where the professor encourages (by demonstration) his students to get more comfortable with their donors by inserting an ungloved finger into the cadaver's anus and then tasting said finger. The following line being "Those of you who are keen observers will have noticed that I inserted my index finger, but tasted my middle finger"

As for donating my own remains, science is welcome to them if they can use them. I'm trying to think what other uses there are besides medical schools but for the life of me I can't remember any. I think I heard once about a study that used real corpses as crash test dummies of some kind.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
lpkmckenna
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Feb 22, 2012, 06:09 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
My great-aunt did this, she has a catholic mass one year later when her remains were cremated and there was a burial.

I would consider it, but try to avoid thinking about such things.
I've been told that some people find waiting an entire year to bury a loved one to be distressing, on top of the whole dissecting thing. Talk to your family before donating your body to science.
     
Person Man
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Feb 22, 2012, 06:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
I think the details are slightly different in the UK. IIRC, they removed the heads quite often and the cadavers used were kept in storage for something like 10 years and distributed at schools some distance from where they lived/died. This was all done to prevent a student from recognising their cadaver which I gather happened once.
They certainly do treat the remains with the utmost respect, though I did hear a story where some first years vexed their professor for a few seconds by borrowing an organ from one body and installing it temporarily in another. I didn't hear of anyone being punished for that prank.
Over here we still have the heads but occasionally you do get that (extremely) rare occurrence of a student recognizing their own family member.

The other classic cadaver story is the one where the professor encourages (by demonstration) his students to get more comfortable with their donors by inserting an ungloved finger into the cadaver's anus and then tasting said finger. The following line being "Those of you who are keen observers will have noticed that I inserted my index finger, but tasted my middle finger"
Yeah, that story gets passed around so often I think it's an urban legend.
     
subego
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Feb 23, 2012, 02:49 AM
 
Originally Posted by Person Man View Post
I can tell you that the cadavers used in our Gross Anatomy labs were treated with the utmost respect. Horseplay or treating a cadaver in a disrespectful manner is not tolerated.
But I gather that when it comes to mannequins, all bets are off.
     
ghporter
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Feb 23, 2012, 07:40 AM
 
My experience in Gross Anatomy was exactly like what Person Man describes. Further, at the end of each school year, our school held a ceremony honoring both the individuals who donated their bodies, and their families, for their contributions to our educations. It's quite a nice service.

I want to express my own thanks to all the people who support medical education with the ultimate donation. One cannot learn anatomy in any clinical manner without Gross Anatomy, and I can honestly say that I use many fine details that I learned in that class every day.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
SSharon
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Feb 23, 2012, 01:48 PM
 
Is anyone else seeing cremation ads?

Personally I'm a bit freaked out about the notion of donating my body to science, but I applaud those who do. I have plenty of family members in the medical field who probably thank you as well. Until reading this thread I never even thought about the distress a family might feel because they can't bury their loved one for a year. Donating one's body is a decision that affects the entire family. How does this differ from organ donation though? I'm sure people are distraught over burying their loved one, even right away, if they are missing so many parts.
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design219  (op)
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Feb 23, 2012, 07:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by SSharon View Post
Is anyone else seeing cremation ads?
Do you mean on this page? Seriously? If you are not joking, can you grab a screenshot?
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sek929
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Feb 23, 2012, 07:50 PM
 
I'm seeing them too.
     
subego
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Feb 23, 2012, 07:51 PM
 
     
ghporter
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Feb 23, 2012, 08:11 PM
 
At the end of the gross anatomy process, the remains are indeed cremated. The ceremony I spoke of earlier, where the donors and their families are thanked, includes the interment of the ashes. I guess the advertising spiders were actually watching this thread.

And I'm getting cremation AND body donation ads while in this thread.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
TailsToo
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Feb 25, 2012, 05:51 PM
 
My wife tells me stories of her classes, where they get bags of arms to work on. Sometimes their old, sometimes middle aged. Kinda creeps me out!
     
   
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