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Donate your body to science

by Russell Kinsaul

KMOV.com

Posted on May 3, 2010 at 3:51 PM

Updated Monday, May 3 at 9:38 PM

We've all heard how the downturn in the economy hurt the stock market, caused a wave of home foreclosures and sent the unemployment rate sky high. But the recession has had another impact that nobody's talking about. It's something that might make the squeamish squirm, but has a really positive upside.

During the recession, a larger number of families found themselves unable to afford a funeral after a loved one died suddenly. If they hadn't prepared for it, they didn't have the thousands of dollars to pay for a traditional funeral service and burial. Even a basic cremation runs $1100. What do you do if you can't afford either?

Many have found a viable alternative to be donating their loved one's body to science. The National Body Donor Program is based in St. Louis and allows families to donate a family member's body for use as a cadaver at a medical school. The NBDP provides cadavers to 25 medical schools from coast to coast. The schools say there's no textbook or computer program that can teach medical school students about anatomy better than a real human cadaver.

There are some restrictions on donations, however. Bodies of persons who had HIV or AIDS, hepatitis, are obese or have had an autopsy performed are not accepted for donations. After the schools are finished with the cadavers, they're returned to the NBDP to be cremated and those remains given to the family.

And the cost of donating a body to science? Usually no more than the cost of a copy of the death certificate.

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