If you were given the opportunity to make a profound difference in someone’s life, would you jump at the chance? How about making a difference in hundreds of lives?
For most of us, the answer is yes, we would jump at the chance to make a difference. That’s why we volunteer for worthy causes like assisting the elderly or helping out those who are less fortunate. Some of us have even taken the act of giving a step further by choosing to become registered organ donors.
Organ donation is often considered the ultimate gift one can give to others. In fact, according to the National Foundation for Transplants, just one organ donor can save up to eight lives. Now that’s making a difference!
But did you know there’s a way to impact even more lives? Potentially thousands of lives both now and in generations to come? It’s called body donation and it’s been around for centuries.
The important role that whole body donors play in the advancement of medicine on a global scale is astounding. Donors have contributed to research and training advancements for thousands of diseases and medical conditions.
Even though most of us don’t know it, we are all connected to body donation.
Education and training
Body donation and the structural study of the human body is a critical component in the education and training of medical professionals including surgeons, physicians, dentists, nurses and more. Anatomy is the foundation of medical science, and in the majority of medical training facilities, body donors serve as the teacher.
According to National Geographic, “Active learning in the lab is the foundation of every treatment and diagnosis the future physicians will render.”
In addition to serving the training needs of medical students and residents, body donors are used by practicing surgeons and physicians to develop and perfect new surgical procedures involving tumor removal, implants, minimally invasive techniques, bypass surgery, tendon and ligament reconstruction and much more.
The next time you or a loved one undergo a surgery, you can thank a body donor for helping to train your surgeon on the procedure.
Medical research is another way that body donors are helping to advance medicine. Donors are used in research projects all over the world to help doctors and scientists develop better therapies for treating patients, including:
- Research to develop therapeutic antibodies in an attempt to find a cure for cancer patients
- Research to study diseased arteries
- Research to study heart conditions and cardiac disease
- Research used to help with the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease
- Research used to test pharmaceutical compounds in the treatment of diabetes
- Research used in studies to help prevent blindness
- Research used to look for early indicators of lung disease
And so much more. Just one medical research project has the potential to impact thousands of lives around the world.
Medical device development
Medical devices play a monumental role in the field of medicine. They help keep us alive, help make surgery safer, improve recovery times, and to help us better cope with chronic medical conditions.
And once again, body donors are critical to the process. Not just in the development of medical devices, but in the testing and training of their use and application as well.
Chances are that you or someone you know has been the beneficiary of a medical device, whether it was an instrument used to aid in surgery, a dental extraction tool, a corrective device, an implant to aid in hearing, an aortic stent or a pacemaker, a diagnostic testing device, a musculoskeletal implant, or even an artificial hip.
Medical devices come in all shapes and sizes and the medical community relies on them and the thousands of body donors who help to make the devices safe and effective for all of us to benefit from.
Who can be a body donor?
According to Katrina Hernandez, the Vice President of Donor Services at Science Care based in Arizona, “Most all will qualify for donation, including those with illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes. There is no upper age limit, but donors must be at least 18.”
The most common rule-outs are contagious disease and extremely over or underweight individuals.
A major concern of many Arizona families is the rising cost of funerals and cremations. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the national median cost of a funeral with viewing and cremation in 2017 was $6,260.
The number can climb much higher depending on location and add-on services.
One of the greatest benefits of body donation through a reputable donation service is that there is no cost to the family. All costs are covered, including transportation, filing of the death certificate, cremation and return of cremated remains within two to five weeks.
Thanks to the generosity of Arizona whole body donors, the future of medicine is in good hands and will continue to thrive.
Science Care was founded in 2000 with the vision to become the world’s leading whole body donation program. Science Care was the first non-transplant organization to earn accreditation by the American Association of Tissue Banks. We’ve helped facilitate the training of thousands of surgeons and physicians at our medical training facilities. We’re headquartered in Arizona, with additional facilities in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Want to learn more about how you can make a difference with whole body donation? Join the Science Care donor registry today and help make a difference for tomorrow.