One way to avoid a lot of fuss and cost is to simply “leave my body to science”.
This seems like a brilliant plan all round because not only is it altruistic, helpful and meaningful – it also relieves the burden of arrangements on family and friends, and is free from costs too!
To do this, I need to get in touch with the Anatomy Department of Glasgow University Medical School (the only others are: Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, and St Andrews), to get advice on the procedures – such as getting on the Bequest Register. I would also need to keep a written statement of the intention to benefit medical science among my papers or in my will so everyone would know about this decision.
“In normal circumstances, the costs of removing the body, and burying or cremating it are normally borne by the Medical School. A body used for teaching purposes will normally be cremated or buried within 3 years at a special memorial service”.
– Scottish Government Website
However, there is a catch: bodies are normally refused if there has been a post mortem examination, if any major organs have been removed, if the body is in a bad condition, or if the Medical School doesn’t need it (it has enough cadavers).
University of Glasgow, School of life Sciences, Anatomy Facility – telephone 0141 330 5397
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Body Donation Frequently Asked Questions PDF
- Declaration of Bequest (PDF)
It’s difficult to get information on specific details about donating a body under certain circumstances – for example, if I die at home, will the University pay for collecting my body? Also, if I am on the Bequest Register at Glasgow University, but die abroad – say, in England & Wales – would costs of repatriation to Scotland be covered or could the Bequest be transferred to a Medical School nearer to the place of death? If the body has organs removed, then the Medical School will reject the body, which means I can’t be an organ donor and leave my body to science!
“I was amazed to discover that a man donated his body to medical research – thinking that he had avoided all costs. He told his family he had left his body to science and not to worry – but universities and hospitals are not legally obliged to accept donated cadavers, and they didn’t need that body – so the family were hit with unexpected costs!”
–Funeral Poverty is a Thing
What all this boils down to is that while it may be a good thing to leave yourself to science, it cannot be banked on as a way to get a free funeral, so finances still would need to be in place – just in case.