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13 June 2014

Burn me or donate me? [More:]This is an aside to my ongoing Ask post regarding my mom and getting her into a memory care facility...

Apparently, one odd expense allowed under the Medicaid spend-down rules is buying funeral arrangements for family members. This has gotten us thinking more seriously about our final plans.

I've been debating between a cremation or donating my body to a medical school.

Any opinions? I'm leaning heavily toward donation. My wife, seems more inclined toward cremation.
I wouldn't mind donating, if anyone was willing to take me. I don't care much about what's done after that; cremation is probably fine. Just do whatever's cheapest. Save your money for more fun stuff.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 13 June | 08:43
Well, obviously, donation will be way cheaper (as in "no cost"), so long as the events of my death don't render me unusable. In that case, my survivors will suddenly be stuck with paying to do something with my body, which is something I really don't want them to have to do.
posted by Thorzdad 13 June | 09:03
I would (and will) donate. Here is my bias: I am heavily influenced by the fact that my PhD was done in an Anatomy and Structural Biology department at a med school, and we doctoral candidates oversaw whole body dissections by the medical students. Even over the time I was associated with the department, body bequests declined, and the med students just didn't get enough time with the cadavers (having to share with other students more). All of this meant that ultimately, people who were becoming surgeons had less time learning fundamental anatomy as a med student.

posted by gaspode 13 June | 10:02
And even if you don't end up being a full body dissection, you could be in the bucket of preserved limbs, heads, brains, etc! Aaahhh, the first year physical education students I taught that weren't ready to be confronted with real lower limbs... good times, good times.
posted by gaspode 13 June | 10:04
I will most likely donate.

Side note: I had several surgeries on a middle ear in order to try to improve hearing. They kept failing, due to the steel they put in there not playing well with the bone. I got frustrated and (pre-Internet) went up to Portland to my nearest med school library to see if I could learn anything. Well I did, and it was mainly through cadaver studies that the knowledge base increased.

I was able to talk more informedly with the new surgeon, and he went in and actually did something that worked (although he did not have a set plan beforehand).

But, for gaspode's reasons, I would do this anyway.
posted by danf 13 June | 11:03
I would like to donate my body to whoever will do the craziest pranks with it.
posted by mullacc 13 June | 11:21
If you donate, can they do a funeral first? Or does the body get swept away right away?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 13 June | 13:18
They want the body ASAP, as it starts to decay immediately. With every hour that passes they have to cross parts off the list.

My mom had hoped to donate more before she was cremated, but they only ended up taking a small amount of tissue and a couple parts. I think as a cancer survivor (among other health conditions) some of her body wouldn't have been acceptable in any case, but there would have been more to donate had she died in the ambulance or the hospital and not in a restaurant.

That does not mean you can't have a funeral after donating body parts. I think they took my mom's eyes but the funeral home did a very nice job of making her presentable before we went in and said goodbye.

I too would like to donate what is useful and burn the rest.
posted by Hugh Janus 13 June | 15:28
The star poet's father held a memorial in a funeral home without her body present. He later had her cremated.
posted by brujita 13 June | 23:42
Make sure you're an organ donor, and that your family knows your wishes.

Most painful conversation of my life is also one that makes me proud. Before my son deployed to Afghanistan, he called me, and his dad, to talk about his preferences in case he was injured severely or killed.

My Mom wanted her ashes to be interred in a beautiful container my sister had made in a pottery class. There were more ashes than container, so we took some of her ashes to her favorite places. I think donation requires that you be near a medical school. I'd be fine with being donated or cremated. I'd kind of like my ashes to be in a few places I love - the lake where I live, the Atlantic, maybe my son could keep a little bit.

posted by theora55 15 June | 08:30
I'm definitely an organ donor myself. Whatever spare parts the living can use, by all means. I never considered donating what's left to medical science, though. I confess, the thought of my head floating in a pickle jar, so to speak, freaks me out a bit, but really what does it matter, if it could do some good. It's something I'll have to consider. (I would imagine there's a lot more leeway when it comes to the condition of the body and any time factor when donating to medical science than there is when donating to living recipients.)
posted by Pips 15 June | 10:44
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