August 28, 2005

Would you donate your body to science?

I'm considering it.

Lynn Romrell, executive director of the Gainesville-based Florida Anatomical Board, says donating a body to benefit future generations is an act "about as altruistic as anything I can imagine."

Only about 400 Floridians each year -- fewer than two-tenths of 1 percent of those who die in the state -- donate their full bodies to science, according to the organization that oversees the collection and distribution of cadavers for medical use.

The reasons people give for not donating their bodies include religious custom, aversion to thinking about death, funeral directors' discouragement and possible disrespect for the cadaver:
Though reputable funeral homes accommodate donors' plans, academic officials say some funeral directors exaggerate the hardships of donation because burial is more profitable for them.
Big surprise there.

Some potential donors are scared away by tales of medical students clowning around with cadavers, but medical schools strongly discourage such behavior. Dr. Christopher Phelps, chair of the Department of Anatomy at the University of South Florida's College of Medicine, says everyone who works with cadavers at USF must sign a pledge to treat the bodies with respect.
Well then. If my future on earth goes according to plan, this once perfect specimen (some would say "past perfect") will be old, decrepit and very dead before arriving in the lab for its final exhibition. So if the class clown cuts the tension, or whatever, at my body's expense, I'll probably be laughing right along with him (then haunting his dreams, of course). Bottom line: If ya can't take a joke, don't let'em poke.
Phelps says USF traditionally ends each school year with a ceremony for the cadavers, complete with poetry readings and the placing of flowers at the foot of a tree. The students also give the anonymous bodies a title: "our silent teachers."
Next Question. Would you donate your body for public exhibition? My own answer: maybe... probably... if I knew it would be used like the ones in this exhibition:

Ignoring controversy and the disapproval of the state Anatomical Board, hundreds of people lined up Thursday to see "BODIES: the Exhibition," a display of specially preserved cadavers and body parts at the Museum of Science and Industry.

"I've never seen anything like it in my life," said Joe Poquette of Lakeland, who visited the exhibition with his mother, stepfather, wife Debbie, and their 4-year-old son, Trent. "It's a learning experience. I don't feel there's anything unethical at all. I feel people would bring their kids in to see what happens in the human body."

Just pose me in front of my old computer monitor where I can surf the giant internets in the sky forever.

More links . . .

1 comment:

Jo said...

FYI here is an interesting link about the company producing the exhibitions: