Though organ donation has become a relatively well recognised action across the UK not as many people know that they can donate their bodies to medical science if they so choose. Unlike organ donation, in which viable organs are harvested and transplanted into those who need them in order to live, the donation of a body to medical science means that the body is transferred in its entirety to a nearby medical school. There it is used for training purposes. If you are considering donating your body to medical science, please continue reading for some answers to frequently asked questions about this subject.
Why Should I Donate My Body to Medical Science? The donation of bodies to medical science is vital for medical schools. Bodies are used for dissections which are conducted as a method of teaching and learning and they are needed for surgeons to train with. Bodies are sometimes also photographed for teaching and learning purposes.
If I Do Decide to Donate, Does A Medical School Have to Accept My Body? In short, no. Medical schools will only accept bodies once they have had a chance to examine them. Generally medical schools publish guidelines on why they will or will not accept bodies for donation.
What Happens if a Medical School Does Not Accept My Body? If your body is not accepted by a medical school your family will become responsible for your remains.
If My Body Is Accepted, What Happens After It Has Been Used? On the donation form you have the option of whether you would like your body to be used by the medical school for three years or if you would be happy to have the medical school keep it for as long as it is worthwhile for them to do so. Regardless of the option you choose, at the end of that time period your body will be cremated. This cremation will include a short service and will be individual, not a mass cremation. Your ashes may be received by a designated person if you would like them to be.
If I Die Suddenly, Can My Family or Executor Donate My Body for Me? No. Donations can only be made by the individual and must be made in writing using the appropriate forms.
If I Become Incapacitated, Can the Individual with Power of Attorney Donate My Body? No. Again, donations can only be made by the individual and must be made in writing using the appropriate forms.
What Arrangements Must I Make for Donating My Body to Medical Science? You must be over the age of 17 to donate your body to medical science. The wish to donate your body to medical science must be made in writing via a consent form that can be obtained from the Bequethal Secretary of your local medical school. You should send this form back to the school, but retain a copy for your own records and a copy to be kept with your will. You should also express your wish to donate your body to medical science in writing and have it witnessed. Finally, you should inform your next of kin and/or the executor of your will of this wish.
How Can I Find Out More About Donating My Body to Medical Science?
The Human Tissues Authority is the organisation which oversees the donation of bodies to medical science. The HTA can be contacted at www.hta.gov.uk.
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