What You Should Know About Body Donation - Step To Health

What You Should Know About Body Donation

Body donation allows health professionals to partake in real and accurate learning. The procedure to apply as a donor is simple, but significant and very valuable to society.
What You Should Know About Body Donation

Last update: 18 October, 2021

Body donation is necessary for scientific learning and medical practice. Anyone who works in anatomy and physiology laboratories defines it as an act of altruism.

According to studies, giving one’s body to science is a form of preserving it by helping students and professionals in their quest to learn about diseases hands-on. Some even perceive it as a way of recycling the body.

It’s an extraordinary and complex way for professionals and students to identify a disease as opposed to doing so through a book. In addition, it offers the option of analyzing the correct and exact location of organs, as well as learning anatomy and physiology.

What happens after body donation?

All a person has to do after signing a consent form for body donation is wait until they die.

Currently, there are companies and associations in charge of collecting and treating the body for delivery to interested laboratories. In turn, they’re also in charge of paying the funeral expenses, burial, or cremation of any non-donated parts.

Then, people use these bodies for scientific purposes. They begin by collecting donors’ remains through a process that’s usually free of charge. They must do so within the first 36 hours after death to ensure it’s still in sound condition.

Secondly, they embalm the body. This is one of the most widely used methods of cadaver preservation.

This ancient practice originated in Egypt. People of this culture embalmed the body to preserve them for a longer period.

Finally, the body is available to students and professionals to study during anatomy and physiology classes.

A medical team.
Medical training includes contact with dead bodies donated to science as these allow a detailed analysis of anatomy and physiology.

Benefits and social contributions

Donating bodies to science has many social and educational benefits. Many health professionals can study more effectively thanks to the request of some to donate theirs followed by the authorization of their relatives after they die.

This type of practice greatly benefits society. This way students can more accurately identify the possible diseases, the natural processes of the body, its structures, and tissues. Everything is hands-on, allowing them to have a much better idea of what they’re doing when attending to a patient.

This helped science evolve and health professionals graduate much more knowledgeable and can better diagnose diseases. It’s now even been possible to identify conditions we didn’t know existed thanks to body donation.

Limiting factors and rejection of the body

One might think that science accepts all types of bodies but there are certain factors to consider during the process as some often lead to rejection.


People who intend to donate their bodies must take into account that they won’t be able to do so at an advanced age because there’s an age restriction.

This contrasts with organ donation, in which age is unimportant — as long as the general condition meets the requirements.

Donation of the body after organ donation

It’ll be difficult to meet all requirements to donate a body after donating some of them. However, the professional in charge must study the quality of the remaining structures to identify if it’s good enough to accept it.

Study of diseases

In general, specialists study bodies to verify there are no conditions that could affect another in the event of transplantation. This is very important because it might not be a viable donation depending on the condition.

For instance, organs deteriorate fast and some conditions would prevent proper preservation when donated to science.

Donor rejection

As you can imagine, it isn’t always easy to donate your body, and some causes do lead to immediate rejection:

  • Infectious diseases present, such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C
  • When close relatives, usually in the first line of blood, oppose the donation. Even when the person expressed their desire to be a donor and as long as there is no legal document that validates the will.
  • Obesity and other comorbidities that make preservation impossible

What’s the procedure to donate a body to science?

You must fill out the paperwork and follow the specific protocol of every institution responsible. These aren’t complex procedures, contrary to what you might imagine.

The general step-by-step is:

  • Contact the anatomy department of the institution to which you wish to donate the body, to fill out the corresponding form.
  • The complete study of the body will be assigned to the professional in charge of the procedure.
  • The conditions present will be investigated to know if the donation is viable or not.
  • Then, the papers indicated by the entity and the professional (consents and legal authorizations) will be signed when everything is in order.
  • Finally, it’ll be necessary to deliver extra documents, such as the civil registry, the death certificate, and the medical history.

It’s important, regardless of the entity to which you choose to donate, that you express your willingness to do so to your family. This is because they may object if the procedures aren’t clear and ready. In fact, some entities don’t accept last-minute donations.

Doctors removing organs after body donation.
Organ donation isn’t the same as a body donation for study. The procedures are also different.

What do you think about body donation?

As we pointed out above, body donation is a decision that benefits society. Even the studies performed on the donor can be useful to close relatives by alerting them about congenital pathologies.

There are robotic surgeons and other alternatives to study the human body in the most advanced medical schools but nothing compares to the real anatomy. This is why more people need to become body donors.

Finally, we must point out that people treat these bodies respectfully. Furthermore, they understand the value and contribution these people are making to science.

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