How To Join Body Donation Programs: End of Life Care

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Many individuals hesitate to address end-of-life issues because they feel uncomfortable facing their own mortality. However, planning ahead for the financial, legal, and personal decisions that are involved in end-of-life care can ensure that individual wishes are met and that no one has to make these difficult decisions for a loved one.

Whole body registry programs offer an important option for individuals who want an alternative to a traditional funeral and burial. As opposed to organ donation programs, these programs allow individuals to donate their entire body to science. Working with a variety of researchers and doctors, whole body programs ensure that donations make a significant difference toward curing, treating, and preventing prominent diseases and maladies. These include: Asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, Cancer, Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and a variety of other ailments.

With traditional willed body programs, individuals donated their body to a single hospital, university, or organization. By donating remains through a whole body donation registry, donors spread the benefit of their gift throughout the scientific community. A variety of educational and health institutions enter into agreements with body donation programs to receive remains. These agreements stipulate certain accepted practices for handling remains and prohibit the sharing and redistribution of donated material.

It is important to note that whole body donation in no way interferes with traditional organ donation programs. Body donation programs understand the vital importance of organ donation. To that end, the programs work collaboratively with organ banks to ensure that organs are recovered and delivered in a timely manner. This means that individuals can donate their organs and provide life-saving transplants and also donate their entire body to help medical research and training in a variety of fields.

Generally, body donation programs have few qualification restrictions. 99% of all potential donors are accepted into the programs. Individuals who cannot be accepted include those who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Tuberculosis, Creutzfeldt – Jakob disease, or Meningitis. Additionally, people who weigh over 350 pounds cannot be accepted.

If family members do not support the donors decision to donate their remains, they cannot be accepted either, as body donation programs go out of their way to respect the wishes of loved ones. Individuals must also be above the age of 18 and a U.S. citizen living inside the continental U.S. There are no additional age or medical stipulations for qualification.

Individuals can pre-register with a body donation program to ensure that the donation process goes smoothly. Pre-registration also helps individuals to clearly outline their personal wishes for family members to follow. While registering for donation, individuals can choose to have their remains submitted for cremation after they have been used for science. There are generally no costs associated with the cremation process, and remains will be shipped to family members two to four weeks after donation.

For donors and their families, there is no cost associated with the body donation process. Body donation programs cover their operating costs through payments from researchers and doctors who participate in the program.

To fully understand the magnitude of their loved one’s contribution, donor families can request to receive a letter describing the myriad organizations and programs that have benefited from their loved one’s donation.

Body donations provide an immeasurable gift to scientific and medical professionals who are avidly working to find new treatments and cures for diseases that dramatically affect the lives of a large portion of the U.S. population. Body donation is a legacy that donors can pass on to the countless individuals who will benefit from their generous gift.

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