How to Save Money By Donating Your Body to Science

Photo (cc) by AdamSelwood

There are few things in this world that are guaranteed, but death is one of them. I unexpectedly lost my brother-in-law in January to a massive stroke. His final expenses topped $12,500 between the funeral home and the cemetery.

Obviously, this is a sensitive time to attempt to save money. But for both your peace of mind and for your family’s piece of your estate, you need to plan ahead. As Stacy Johnson talks about in Buried in Debt, most people wait until the last minute to deal with this uncomfortable topic.

But what if you’re looking to defray some of your final expenses and help someone out in the process? Then donate your body to science.

It’s called “whole-body donation,” and it’s vital for medical training facilities and disease research. And there’s probably a place near you that will take your body off your hands. The University of Florida even maintains a database listed by state. Body Donation Programs in the United States provides addresses and phone numbers. And there are private organizations like BioGift and Science Care.

For example, near me is the University of Tennessee Anatomical Bequest Program, which accepts donated bodies for use in medical research, anatomy lessons, and surgical practice – as well as criminal forensics research in the school’s Body Farm, an idea that has been copied by other schools and featured on those TV procedural police dramas.

There’s no cost to the family for donating a loved one’s remains, unless the body must be moved from out of state. Generally, the body will be cremated and returned to the family once the research is complete. But before you decide on whether whole-body donation is right for you, consider the following…

  1. If you are an organ donor you won’t qualify for most programs. For example, the University of Tennessee requires that you donate your body in its entirety (hence the term “whole-body”). So if you qualify for organ donation, you don’t qualify for this particular kind of medical research.
  2. You can’t decide how your body will be used. You and your relatives can’t choose to have your body used for dissection in an anatomy class or for disease research in a medical lab. You can’t even designate whether your body will be used in its entirety for one study – which means part of you might be used in one place, and part of you in another.
  3. Your family won’t get updates. Once your body is donated, your relatives won’t receive any information regarding the outcome of the studies conducted on you.
  4. Funeral services or other memorial service expenses aren’t covered. While the University of Tennessee and many other programs will allow your family to conduct any final services they wish before taking custody of your body, they won’t pay for it.
  5. You may not qualify for the anatomical bequest program. If your body has been badly damaged (say, in an accident) or you were morbidly obese, you won’t be eligible to donate your remains.
  6. You won’t be paid to donate. Federal law prohibits buying bodies.

So those are the warnings. Here are the two big advantages…

You’re literally saving lives. Science Care offers a list of medical advancements that came from research on bodies. It includes treatments for everything from diabetes to deafness.

You’re saving money. Like many programs, the University of Tennessee will cremate your body after the studies have been completed (usually in 18 months) and either inter you in a local cemetery or return your ashes to your family, free of charge (minus any transportation costs).

Best of all, just as with traditional funeral services, participation in these programs can be prearranged by simply completing a couple of forms. And you can change your mind at any time by simply revoking your authorization in writing.

If you’re dying to know more, contact a facility near you or one of the national private companies.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
11 Home Upgrades With the Best Payback in 2020
11 Home Upgrades With the Best Payback in 2020

The home remodeling projects that deliver the best bang for the buck tend to have one thing in common.

Marooned at Home? Earn Some Cash Playing on Your Computer
Marooned at Home? Earn Some Cash Playing on Your Computer

Earn cash by reading emails, taking surveys, playing games, shopping and signing up for offers through this website.

This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked
This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked

The Social Security Administration is not helping certain people get money to which they are entitled, a report says.

9 Houseplants That Remove Toxins From Your Indoor Air
9 Houseplants That Remove Toxins From Your Indoor Air

These plants may also do everything from reduce the amount of dust in your home to improve your productivity.

What is the Cheapest Grocery Store?
What is the Cheapest Grocery Store?

Aldi, Kroger and Walmart: Which grocery store is the cheapest?

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

Prices Are Soaring on These 7 Items
Prices Are Soaring on These 7 Items

Some surprise price jumps are making life more difficult for consumers.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

This iconic dinnerware is prized for everyday use as well as reselling for profit.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

7 Home Improvements That Cost a Lot More in 2021
7 Home Improvements That Cost a Lot More in 2021

These projects will take a bigger bite out of your budget than in the recent past.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken
Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken

Something foul may lurk in those delicious, ready-to-eat birds.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make
7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make

Sometimes a big-ticket purchase is nothing more than a big waste of money.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.