Skip to main content

What Are the Pros and Cons of Donating Your Body to Science?

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

Lela is a certified medical laboratory scientist (ASCP) with 38 years of experience in the medical industry and blood banking.

What Can I Do With My Remains?

As we all can guess, body farms cannot operate without bodies. Med students need cadavers to 'practice' medicine on. The U.S. Government accepts bodies for training purposes (Yes, even for live simulation target practice).

There is a market for bodies and body parts. Donating organs for transplant is fairly common these days. I have heard that in third world countries, some people are paid for donating a working kidney and it is removed even while they are still using it.

Donating your body can save your family a lot of time and expense. It is important to prepare your family if you plan on donating your body. They may or may not want to support you.

Also, plan well in advance for your choice of where to donate your body and how it will be used. What will become of the remains? Who will receive the remains? How long will your body be with the facility? Where and how long will the body be stored during the "usage" time. How will the body be transported to the facility? What paperwork is required?

Pros and Cons of Body Donation

Type of Body DonationProsCons

Medical Cadaver

Train future doctors which will save lives in the future

Disrespect? of person


Medical school will assume most of the financial burden

Remains are usually returned cremated which may contradict religious beliefs


May contribute to future medical treatments that save lives

The decision to donate is difficult and families may not agree or cooperate with your wishes


Some tissues may be harvested and used to help others before the body is sent to a training facility

There are medical and legal issues that must be solved well ahead of time

Body Farm

Training of criminal scientists

Body may or may not be returned to family


Training of Anthopologists

Infectious disease deaths are not accepted


Body may be instrumental in solving crimes

Donation paperwork may require your life story with photos and unusual permissions


Transportation of remains is usually available

Body may be used for traumatic injury demos and may be on display for months or years

Military use

Body is used to test safety equipment and may save a soldiers life

Body is usually traumatized in some way during testing

Other Institutions

Body may be used for training in a variety of schools such as mortician school, car safety demos

Body may be traumatized during testing

Body Farm

Body farms use cadavers to study the effects of the environment on human and animal bodies.

Body farms use cadavers to study the effects of the environment on human and animal bodies.

Tips for Making Your Body Donation Decision

Always discuss your wishes as soon as you can with your family. They will most likely be surprised and maybe hurt to learn that you do not want a funeral.

Research all of your options before choosing the recipient of your body. Get informed about what they will do with your remains. Discuss this with your family also.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Soapboxie

Discuss your decision with your priest, pastor or other religious leader. There are some religions where body donation is not acceptable.

Plan for any expenses involved with your donation. Some places will pay for the expenses, some will not. Some places will pay for cremation and or burial. Some places will transport your body at their expense. Some places will ask that your body be delivered at your expense.

Get everything spelled out in writing and properly witnessed and possibly notarized. Keep the paperwork in a file called "In the event of my death" along with your last will and testament. Give a copy to your lawyer or executor of your estate and remains.

Where to Go to Donate Your Body for Science

What will you do in the event of your death?

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Are you paid to donate your body to science?

Answer: You will have to shop around to find a place that pays for your body. Most will cover cremation costs and transportation of the body, but do not "pay" for a donated body.

Question: Where do you donate an overweight body?

Answer: As far as I know, overweight cadavers are not accepted due to transportation costs. You will have to meet the requirements of the accepting facility. It will be in their paperwork along with other qualifying questions.

© 2012 Lela

Related Articles