Thursday, April 19, 2007

What exactly is "dropsy"?

Reading this book, "Stiff" by Mary Roach has got me thinking a little bit on what exactly is going to happen to my mortal coil when I have departed. The noble thought of donating my body to science has always been a consideration, but now I am not so sure. There is, of course, the slim chance that as a body donor that the parts I no longer need like my heart or kidneys will be given to someone who can still use them. But there is the equally slim chance that as a cadaver, my head will be removed and used for ballistics testing or that my decaying corpse will be laid down on a grassy knoll to be observed by forensic students as I rot. (Come to think of it, that second one may not be all that bad.)
The point is that the idea of donating your body to "science" is a pretty vague one, and there is no guarantee that it will actually be used for the type of "science" you expected. Seeing as there is no way to know exactly where your corpse will end up, and its not a sure thing that your loved ones will know where it goes, either. Since explaining to a loved on what is going to happen to your body can be somewhat of a PR nightmare, most places tend not to volunteer the information. So if you are ever in the un-enviable position of asking what your loved ones body is being used for, just remember it could be an organ transplant, or it could be a crash test dummy. It could go either way.

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