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Unable To Meet Funeral Costs, Americans Are Donating Their Bodies To Science In Record Numbers

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In the latest paradox of the new normal recovery, this time one with distinctly morbid undertones, the Associated Press reports that US medical schools are seeing a surge in the number of people leaving their bodies to science, a trend “attributed to rising funeral costs.”

The good news is that this unexpected shift in many Americans’ attitudes toward death and what happens to their bodies after, will be a boon to medical students and researchers, who dissect cadavers in anatomy class or use them to practice surgical techniques and test new procedures. “Not too long ago, it was taboo. Now we have thousands of registered donors,” said Mark Zavoyna, operations manager for Georgetown University’s body donation program.

It has been a veritable flood of record cadavers: the University of Minnesota said it received more than 550 corpses last year, up from 170 in 2002. The University at Buffalo got almost 600 last year, a doubling over the past decade. Others that reported increases include Duke University, the University of Arizona and state agencies in Maryland and Virginia. ScienceCare, a national tissue bank, now receives 5,000 cadavers a year, twice as many as in 2010.

The bad news is what is prompting this radical shift: while it is true that there has been a decline in cultural inhibitions and religious objections to dissection, and cremation hold less sway today than in the past, there is a far simpler reason why many Americans are turning to this option: “Funerals are expensive. That certainly has something to do with it,” Zavoyna said. “Of course, it almost has this snowball effect, where you get five people to donate, and then their families tell another 25 people.” – READ MORE

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