The decision to be a body donor (or an organ donor) is not just a personal decision, but one that forces us to face our own mortality. No one likes to sit around and think about death, so we put it off, sometimes until it’s too late. But the truth is, having a plan in place before your passing helps your loved ones navigate their loss knowing that they are honoring your final wishes.
Registering as an organ donor has become common, but the practice of body donation remains almost taboo for many people. Why? Body donation saves lives too, through contributions to medical research and innovation. So, let’s face our fears and clear up some misconceptions:
“My body might end up in the hands of a mad scientist!”
Halloween is almost here, and horror movies and scary stories saturate the media. Mad scientists performing crazy experiments makes for great cinema, but not for an accurate picture of cutting-edge scientific research. Accredited programs like MedCure make the ethical treatment of our donors our top priority.
When researchers contact us, they have to go through an extensive vetting process and agree to follow strict regulations around the treatment of our donors. We also require that researchers allow us to audit their facilities so that we can verify their research and ensure they are complying with appropriate codes of conduct.
The bottom line is that we don’t work with anyone we don’t trust or about whom we have concerns.
“If a doctor knows I’m a donor, then they won’t give me necessary life-saving treatment”
Urban myth tells us that registering to be an organ or body donor means that doctors will be more concerned with harvesting your organs than saving your life during a medical crisis. The Hippocratic Oath taken by physicians and other healthcare professionals requires that everyone in the field practice medicine ethically and “first, do no harm”. Preservation of life is the whole reason that organ and body donation exist, and this includes the lives of potential donors.
“Being a donor means I’ll be cut up”
Any type of donation requires surgical procedures. In order to remove organs for transplant, incisions need to be made. In body donation, doctors and researchers already know what the outside of the body looks like, but to teach or research anything they need get to the inside. MedCure donors contribute immensely to medical research and education, which helps all of us live longer, healthier lives. Sometimes remembering the higher purpose that body donation serves is enough to help alleviate our fear of the process.
“My family might get the wrong person’s ashes back”
MedCure follows a strict set of operating procedures to ensure that every donor is properly identified throughout the donation process. Each of our donors is cremated individually by a licensed crematory, and the cremated remains are tracked with as much attention and care as the donor was during the donation itself.
“My religion won’t approve of body donation”
Many organized religions do approve of both organ and whole body donation. This final act of generosity often serves as a clear demonstration of the tenets of an individual’s faith. Some religions have specific doctrines governing anatomical donations, so it may be worthwhile to speak with your spiritual leader about how your faith views the act of giving. In many cases, such a personal decision is left up to the individual.
How Can You Face Your Fear?
The best way to face a fear is through knowledge. As with any important life decision, researching your options is the responsible thing to do. When exploring body donation some things to consider include:
- Accreditation and adherence to all applicable federal and state regulations
- Compassion on the part of the company and its employees
- Researcher vetting process
- Service areas and costs associated with the program (if any)
We all have a choice when it comes to body donation, and MedCure respects that choice. Regardless of how an individual feels about the process, we should all be thankful for the generosity of those who do choose to donate!
If you are interested in learning more about whole body donation and the role that it plays in advancing medical science, you can visit us online at medcure.org. Or, you can call our 24/7 toll free number 866-560-2525 to speak with one of our knowledgeable Donation Coordinators.