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Organ Donation - Donate Your Body

Updated on August 23, 2013
With organ donation, the death of one person can mean life for others.
With organ donation, the death of one person can mean life for others. | Source

Organ Donor

Have you given any thought to organ donation or body donation? Of course, I’m talking about after you die and don’t need your body or your internal organs any longer. I really don’t understand why everyone doesn’t choose to be an organ donor. If these people believe in Heaven, are they afraid they’ll arrive at the pearly gates without a liver, pancreas, or other vital organs? If they’ve donated their corneas, do they think they’ll wander around blind for all eternity? Why keep something you no longer need, when it could save lives and improve lives? Body donation is another subject, and I can understand why people might not wish to donate their body to science. If you really think about it, though, it’s the natural way to go – and it’s a lot cheaper than burial or cremation. Maybe after reading this article, you’ll decide to become an organ donor. Hopefully, you’ll see organ donation and even body donation in a new light.

By donating your body to science, your family can avoid most or all funeral costs.
By donating your body to science, your family can avoid most or all funeral costs. | Source

Organ Donation

Through organ donation, you have the amazing power to save lives. There aren’t nearly enough organ donors to fill the needs of those waiting for someone to donate life and hope. Many of those waiting are children. If they don’t receive the organs they need, they’ll die. The thought of helping save these kids should be a gripping incentive to anyone even considering donating organs. There are many, many adults who need healthy organs and tissues, too. These patients are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, and grandparents.

Typically, organ donation doesn’t include only organs. The term usually includes tissue and eye donation, too. Actual organs that might be reused include the liver, pancreas, heart, lungs, intestines, and kidneys. Tissues that are needed include skin, blood vessels, corneas, tendons, bones, and heart valves. I really like the idea of my lifeless body being put to good use. I’ve discussed it with my three adult children, and they all agree with my decision. In fact, they’re all organ donors, too. We sort of like the idea that parts of us will live on in the physical sense.

All sorts of tissue and organ donations are needed.
All sorts of tissue and organ donations are needed. | Source

Organ Donation Facts

There are often a lot of misconceptions about donating your organs, and some of them are pretty far-fetched notions. I’ll give you some actual organ donation facts here to help put your mind at ease. A few people seem to think that if the medical staff at a hospital knows a patient is an organ donor, the team won’t try very hard to save the person’s life. That is absolutely not true. The physicians are intent on saving your life, and if it’s at all possible, they will. They’re focused on the patient at hand – not someone a thousand miles away who might be waiting for an organ donation.

Some people also think they can’t have an open casket at their funeral if they’ve donated their organs, eyes, and tissues. Again, this isn’t true – unless maybe you plan on being naked while your body is on display to family and friends. Otherwise, your clothes will cover any incisions, and your eyelids will be closed.

One of the scariest misconceptions about organ donation is that the medical team won’t wait until you’re completely dead before they begin harvesting your body parts. The organ donation facts here are that they’ll have to be even surer of your death than they’d have to be if you weren’t an organ donor.

Fears and misconceptions might also have to do with religious beliefs. I had a friend and co-worker who was a member of a rather strange religion. She had a terminal disease, and she wouldn’t accept donations that could have saved her life. She wouldn’t donate any of her organs, either. She believed that doing so would mean giving up her eternal soul to a stranger. I really don’t like to knock anyone’s religion, but as a Christian, I don’t understand this line of thinking. I don’t believe our souls are connected to our body parts. And I think God wants us to help save the lives of others.

Here are some sobering organ donation facts: Over 100,000 people are on the waiting list for organ donations. There are even more people who have applied but haven’t yet been approved as candidates. Of the number of candidates, close to 2,000 are children. Children should be able to look forward to a long life instead of facing imminent death.

You can’t be too old to donate organs. You don’t have to be in great health, either. There are a few conditions that will automatically disqualify you, however. They include HIV, some severe infections, and cancers that are active and spreading. Otherwise, it’s very likely that at least some of your organs or tissues can be used.

Some people believe their organs will go to wealthy or important people – that these types of patients are automatically moved to the top of the waiting list because of their power or financial status. Not true. Patients are assessed by how long they’ve been waiting, by how sick they are, by their location, and by their blood type. Organs and tissues have to be “a match.”

Some people also think there’s a charge involved with donating organs and tissues, but there’s not. Your loved ones won’t be charged a fee. They won’t receive any payment, either. Organ donation is a gift – not a money-making commodity. Forget about all those horror stories that tell of people being drugged and waking up in an ice-filled bathtub with their kidney removed. I’m talking here about legal organ donations done by medical professionals after you’re brain dead.

Organ donation saves lives, but that’s not all it does. It can also greatly improve lives by restoring vision and/or hearing, and by helping patients heal from injuries to their skin and bones. Burn victims, for example, usually need skin grafts, and those who have bone injuries or trauma might need bone grafts. With organ donation, you won’t just donate life. In some cases, you’ll donate a much better life. Even better, your gifts might save several lives and improve even more lives.

Organ Donation Facts:

Donate Life

One of the best ways to donate life is through organ donation. In fact, it might be the very best way to save lives. Some people think that donating organs might save one or two lives, but in reality, your organs might save as many as eight or ten lives, and your tissue donations could improve the lives of as many as fifty individuals. Think of all the people in the world who’re waiting for donated organs. According to Organ Donor, a government website, there are 119,329 people waiting for an organ donation – and that’s the figure for the United States alone. Also, according to the site, a new name is added to that long list on an average of six per hour. Also, an average of eighteen patients die every day waiting for an organ donation that never happened. The government site states that one organ donor can save eight lives, but other sites list that figure as a little higher – nine or ten lives.

What life-saving organs are needed right now? Currently, there are almost 100,000 candidates waiting for kidney transplants. Over 15,000 are waiting for a liver. 3,500 patients are waiting for a new heart. More than 1,600 are awaiting a lung transplant. More than a thousand are hoping for a healthy pancreas. Most of these patients won’t survive unless people choose to donate life to them.

To donate life is to give the ultimate gift. Yes, your corneas, tissue, and organ donation will usually go to a complete stranger, but so what? Try to imagine facing death every day, waiting on pins and needles for some generous and thoughtful stranger to give you a chance to survive. If more of us become organ donors, there might not even be a waiting list. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone who needs an organ or some tissue could be saved, without having to endure an excruciating wait, all the while knowing that your savior might never appear?

Reasons to Become an Organ Donor:

How To Become An Organ Donor

If you live in the US, you probably already know how to become an organ donor. Most adult US citizens know about organ donation. Every time I’ve ever been a patient in the hospital, even if it was just a visit to the emergency room, I was asked if I was an organ donor. Whenever I have tests run at my doctor’s lab, they ask me about organ donation, too. I always have to check and initial that option on the required forms. Whenever I visit my oncologist for my six months tests and checkup, I have to do the same thing. The problem is that even though almost every adult in the US knows about donating organs, only about a third actually know how to become an organ donor.

If you want to be an organ donor, make sure your doctor is aware of that. If you have an advanced directive on file at your local hospital, which is a good idea, make sure you include your wishes about organ donation. Have it put on your driver’s license, too. In most states, you can register online as an organ donor, and you’ll receive a card to keep in your billfold or wallet. Most of all, make sure your family knows your wishes. Discuss it with them while you’re still alive. Don’t just put it in your will. It’ll be too late to donate your organs after your will is read. Organs and tissues to be donated have to be kept viable after your brain is dead.

Don’t put off discussing this with your family and loved ones. You never know what your future holds. You could suffer serious head trauma and brain death tomorrow. I realize discussing your death with your loved ones can be uncomfortable for all involved parties, but it’s important to do so. We have to face it – we’re all going to die. With organ donation, you can make your death count for something.

The Body Farm:

Body Donation

I signed up for organ donation years ago, and recently, I’ve also made a decision about body donation. I’ve always had an irrational fear of premature burial. You know – being buried alive. I’m sure this stems from a Vincent Price horror movie I saw as a child. This fear was probably exacerbated by all the years I taught British lit and the black plague. Lots of people were buried alive then. Yes, my rational mind knows that premature burial in this day and age, with embalmment, is impossible, but I’d probably wind up with an ex-student doing the embalming. It would likely be one who failed my class, and he’d figure he’d get even with me by not performing the task. Then I’d wake up in a few hours and find myself trapped in a coffin, with no way to escape. What a terrible way to die!

I’m 55 years old now, and I have the sneaking suspicion that I might actually die one day. When I do, I don’t want to be buried. For years, I thought cremation was the best option. When I was doing my funeral planning, I even asked the local funeral director if my family could rent a casket for the viewing, and he said yes. That way, my family could still have a traditional funeral with a viewing before my body was sent to the crematory. I wasn’t wild about the idea of being burned in a kiln, but I thought it was better than being buried. Last year, I discovered the perfect option for my body. I’m going to donate body to science - to the Body Farm.

My body is going to be sent to the Forensic Anthropology Center at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Often referred to as the “Body Farm,” the center uses donated bodies to help solve crimes. The folks there study decomposing bodies. Donors can state whether they want their body to be in water or not. From what I’ve read, you can still donate your organs if you’ve decided to have your body sent to the Body Farm. That’s a great idea to me – organ donation to people in dire need, and body donation to help with the cause of justice. You won’t be embalmed, however. I suppose that would interfere with the decomposition. The University of Tennessee will pay for the body to be transported if it’s within 100 miles of Knoxville.

Why do I think body donation is a great idea? I have several reasons as to why I prefer body donation to burial and cremation. I like the idea of lying out in the woods or in a field, decomposing naturally. I also like the idea of my death serving some useful purpose. I like my flesh being returned to the earth in a natural process, providing food for other creatures like worms and beetles. My husband has decided on body donation, too, so maybe they’ll put us near each other.

I contacted the center, and they sent me some papers to fill out. When the papers are completed and returned, the Body Farm will create a file for me. My family is aware of my wishes, and I have them written down in my funeral plans, along with the contact number for the Body Farm. My kids think the idea is rather strange, but they’re more than willing to honor my wishes.

Another reason I’ve made these decisions concerning organ donation and body donation is because of funeral costs. The most expensive items included in funeral costs are usually the casket and the burial plot. My family won’t have to worry about either of these. They can still have a funeral ceremony, but it will be a heck of a lot cheaper than a traditional funeral. When you’re thinking about funeral planning, you might want to consider body donation as an alternative to burial or cremation. Getting this decision out of the way has lifted a burden from my shoulders – no more worrying about being buried alive! I also have the peace of mind knowing that even when I’m dead, I can still help others through body donation and organ donation.


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    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      libby, I'm sure your local funeral director could answer your question. Sorry, but I don't know.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      What if someone in the face wants just a tiny bit of the dust after the cremation .???? Is there a charge if you do not know who can I ask. K. Very important to two family members

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Peach, thanks for the kind words!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Rasta, obviously, I don't agree with you about organ donation, but I respect your beliefs. Donating your organs or your entire body has to be a personal choice.

    • peachpower profile image


      7 years ago from Florida

      So, I should've known that someone did a Hub about this topic already (probably a LOT more than one, now that I think about it)... I'm so new here it's silly. I just did one this evening on body donation and my father- who is still alive, nothing out of the ordinary :) but I just wanted to say that I loved yours, and I wanted to thank you for sharing it!!

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 

      8 years ago from Jamaica

      I am pretty much against organ donation. I believe that my organs being in another person may cause spiritual and biological conflicts. This is an interesting hub though.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      HH, the thought of lying in a field or woods is strangely comforting to me! Good to see you.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Valere, thanks for the info!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Holle, you gave me a great ides. That's exactly I want to be in a forest or field. Also I despice the money racket of these funeral directors. The prices they put on is disgusting. It is nothing but a racket.

    • Valere profile image


      8 years ago

      Habee, your comment, "I’m 53 years old now, and I have the sneaking suspicion that I might actually die one day" was cute! It amazes me how many people don't want to talk about our plan for the eventual demise that we all go through someday.

      I am going to donate my body too and I looked into (and was facinated with) the body farm in Tennessee. Problem being that I live outside of their 200 mile radius. So I'll donate my body to science through MedCure ( which may be an option for other folks like me that share the view points you bring up in your blog.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for that information, Stacy! I think most people just don't think about body donation, but I think it's a great way to be useful - even in death.

    • Stacy721 profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi Habee, thanks for sharing your decision about body donation to the body farm.

      Like many others here, I didn't used to think much about my end-of-life arrangements. After a bit of research you will notice there are tons of options available for us all.

      I just wanted to offer you a bit more information about body donation, in case you were unaware. In addition to donating to institutions such as the body farm for education and training, body donation is also available for medical research and professional education for doctors and nurses, etc.

      I work for Science Care, a whole body donor program that allows donors an opportunity to contribute to medical science. Anyone interested in body donation should do their research about the purpose they would like to serve and whether or not they would like remains returned to their loved ones. Science Care also returns remains within 3-5 weeks.

      Thank you for your hub on this topic! I'm sure you've opened the eyes and ears of many.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Hubert, only a chubby-chaser who has necrophilia would want to see my lifeless naked body. LOL!!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Mike. Why let a perfectly good body go to waste? lol

      As for the ads, I get the same thing. If I read about dogs then go to an article about fishing, the dog products ads appear.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Ms. Lizzy, some funeral homes will try to sell people things they don't need, telling that they have to have them by law. Good for you for researching!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I agree with drbj. This may be your chance to be a movie star

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Oh, thanks a lot, drbj. Now you've given me something new to worry about! lol

    • MikeNV profile image


      8 years ago from Henderson, NV

      Crazy Google. I just looked at a Hub about Solar Panels then came to yours... so what Ads do I see? That's right Solar Panels. I wish they would stop following me around!

    • MikeNV profile image


      8 years ago from Henderson, NV

      I believe once our body is dead it really doesn't matter. I believe what we all want is dignity and respect in death. Donating your body to a cause which will make the lives of others better is a very noble thing to do. Voting up.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      8 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Hmmm.... I'm 10 years older than you, and that day looms nearer for with most of us, I don't like to think about it. I'm too busy living! ;-)

      However, I've been doing some reading, and have learned a few things about funerals, at least here in California. First, there is no law requiring embalming, and there is no law requiring an expensive casket, or funeral home--you may lie in state in your own home.

      Beyond that, I'd have some research to do. ;-)

      Voted up and interesting.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      One question, Holle, what if your body is the one that the Body Farm decides to feature on a 'CSI' or 'Body of Proof' TV show? As a commercial, of course. Just wonderin'.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Oh, Leah - I need to read that book! Thanks for the tip!

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 

      8 years ago from Western New York

      I read about the Body Farm in the book Stiff (by Mary Roach) - it was a fascinating (if morbid) look at the use and decomposition of human cadavers. It is definitely a way to save on funeral costs - and it does further science, so it's a pretty good idea!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Drummond, that's what I'm thinking! Thanks for reading.

    • Drummond1758 profile image


      8 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

      I have never thought of this option but I might just consider it. It is rather strange but your right, it's more useful than rotting in a $6,000 casket.


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