So, my wife takes a call and explains to someone how you can donate their body for scientific purposes. They take your body and use it for nine medical schools in a respectful manner. They cremate and send back ashes if the family wants their loved one ashes. No expense or funeral cost attached.
Humanity Gifts Registry[i] is the organization closest to me with no transport cost attached. I jumped on their website and found a simple one-pager to sign. They are associated with nine local medical schools, including one my daughter attends. They get to practice medicine before your body goes on its way. Impulsively I went to print one copy; my wife was not onboard for herself. Printer failed. I forgot my other daughter, not in medical school, changed the router password, now all sorts of things don’t work around the house, but our router is safe, and so is my deceased body. But should it be?
Before we even consider donating our body to science, have you signed up to be an organ donor to save a life now should you meet unexpected death? Twenty people will die today waiting for an organ match, and 112,000 people are on the national waiting list at Organdonor.gov[ii]. Just one donor can save eight lives. I already have an organ donor label on my driver’s license. It seemed like the appropriate thing to do when my wife and I purchased motorcycles. St. Joseph University Institute of Bioethics summarizes that the Catholic Church position as it “applauds and encourages organ donation as a morally good act of self-giving.”[iii] The Catholic Catechism states:
“Organ donation after death is a noble and meritorious act and is to be encouraged as an expression of generous solidarity,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church states. (CCC, 2296)
“A Catholic donating her body for scientific research is not only allowed, but considered a noble act when it’s done for the true common good. That means it must be done in the spirit of service to other human beings and not for financial gain or product research (commercialism).”
Nor is the Chuch opposed to cremation. The Church does not support spreading ashes, keeping them on the bookshelf, or being formed into a coral reef. They have Eternal Coral Reefs. You can visit your loved ones while on vacation and scuba diving.
It appears as if there is no reason why I should not donate my body to science. I can also save cremation and funeral costs though Catholics must still find a respectful place for the urn of ashes. If you are interested, visit ScienceCare.org.[v]
I understand organ donation and body donation are beyond the comfort level for many. You can give now by making an appointment to give blood, visit the Red Cross[vi] web site. There is a national shortage due to the Covid 19 Pandemic. So, now what do you do? If nothing else, please complete an Advanced Directive. You can find guidance here: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/advance-care-planning-healthcare-directives. That will show love and caring for your family when your time comes. In the meantime, you have three choices to consider while we are isolated in our homes (if we are lucky to be home and not in a hospital):
- Organ Donation after death
- Body Donation after death
- Blood Donation (and even Organ donation while living if you’re a match)
I have not acquiesced yet with Body Donation after death. I probably will after some prayer and will hope my time does not come until after my daughter finishes medical school!
Do all three, and you can save eight lives, get a free cremation, free juice, and cookies, and give your pursuit of being a decent human being a boost! Sorry, no promises here of virgins, everlasting peace, knighthood, sainthood, or otherworldly honors! This is something we can all do – at least one of the three regardless of our faith, religious or political affiliation. In the U.S, we expect to see 100000 to 200000 deaths. We have 2100 thus far. It is unimaginable. In this time of significant loss and death, impending poverty for many, and social isolation, we can all reevaluate our priorities and commit actions now and in the future to helping humanity. Quietly and unseen, we can be heroes in the solitude of our prays.