Friday, February 10, 2012


FOR THE RECORD, I neither condone nor condemn anatomical donation of any type FOR THE USE OF MEDICAL RESEARCH, health improvement or the assistance of longevity of ones life. This is a personal choice a family or individual must make, all that is posted here is nothing more than my personal findings and observations on the Internet of this industry and my working in the funeral industry over the years.

It's what Mom would have wanted......... Well, trust me, Mom WOULD NOT! have wanted this.

"My Condolences! Give your loved one to me so I can resell the body for thousands of dollars..."


Would donating my body to science save my family a great deal of money that would be have been spent on a traditional casket/burial plot/etc? And about how much do those things cost these days? It seems awfully expensive to die nowadays.

Answer - Possibly, IF ACCEPTED!
Donation of your body to science in most cases means that your body will be used in the anatomy lab for the education of medical students and/or other health science students, or for doctors to practice difficult surgical procedures on. Some universities also do other research on cadavers (such as crash testing for safety development).

The procedure to donate your body varies depending on your state. For example, in Michigan you donate your body directly to the university of your choice, but in Maryland you donate your body to a central organization which then disperses the cadavers to universities in the state. Your best bet is to start with the large university near you (you'll have the most luck with a university that has a medical school). You'll want to search the body donation company's website to find their anatomy department, and there will usually be a link on that page for "body donation," "willed body program," or something similar. If you don't see what you're looking for, you can always try calling the company and asking about it.

Most body donations are arranged before death, as the person actually donating their body often has to consent. You would actually be willing your body to the company at the time of your death. They will send you paperwork (or have it available online) that you fill out and then file with the company and with your legal paperwork. They will also often give you a wallet card to carry.

Organ Donation
If you are donating your body, you cannot be an organ donor. These are two different things. (And, no, they don't sell organs (do they)... it's illegal.) You can generally donate corneas, but can't donate any other organs because your body then wouldn't be terribly useful for teaching purposes.

How to Start
When you die, your family or the hospital will contact the organization or funeral home recommended  that you donated your body to. They will then decide if your body is suitable. They can't tell you this ahead of time, because it depends on factors like infectious diseases, surgeries, trauma, weight, and cause of death.

Ask yourself this, if whole body donation is strictly for anotomical research (non transplant stuff), why would they be concerned about tissue that carries infectious diseases that die when the body dies or weight, heart condition or liver condition?

Anyways, these things can change between the time that you sign the papers and the time that you die, so they don't make the final determination until you actually die. If they don't take your body, your family is responsible for the funeral costs unless the donation company has a (will pay for cremation, guaranteed) clause.

If your body donation is accepted, they will come and pick up the body. You won't have to pay anything, provided that you live within a certain distance from the facility. If you happen to die while traveling, they recommend that you contact the nearest donation funeral home for a donation there. Or, your family can pay the cost of transporting the body back to the home state for donation there (why?).

After the donation company is done with your body, it will be cremated. The family has the option of getting the ashes back at that time (sometimes). If the family does not want the ashes back, they will be buried in a grave with the other bodies that were cremated that year (each body in a separate container, in one grave, or are they?).

(READ CLOSELY) The time that the body will be used can range from 6 months to years, depending upon the facilities policies and the use of your body. Mind you, 6 months to a year is how long the body will sit in a freezer waiting to be thawed then  used. Prior to freezing, the head, arms and legs may be removed from the torso so it can be used solely for experimental surgeries or educational training. It is not pretty.

So yes, if you donate your body, there are no final costs to your family. If your body isn't accepted, then the next cheapest alternative is cremation (skip the viewing), and a small memorial service if allowed by the funeral home if the ashes are returned. A donation company can only reimburse a funeral home for the cost of the cremation only, nothing more. Thus, the funeral home still gets the cremation payment and the body donation company still gets the body, it's a win, win situation. Not allot of compassion, just business.

Free Cremation Advertisement by Funeral Homes
This is a scam run by funeral homes, Maybe, MAYBE, one in three or four people qualify, but they (the advertising funeral home) have you in the door, already had the deceased picked up and now you are responsible for cremation charges to the funeral home as well the removal charges should the body be rejected and you choose to go elsewhere. If you should choose to pursue this type of cremation, ensure the deceased is qualified prior to death.

Many Funeral Homes advertise this "Free Cremation Service" with an airplane cremation scattering over the Rockie Mountains, A Scattering at sea in the Bahamas, even go so far as to tell you they will scatter at the deceaseds favorite place with a video and everything (plaque, certificate, Bla Bla Bla).......... In the end, they may end up like this. Im sure the families in the following story never expected this.....

Some funeral home OWNERS have even gone so fare as to open up whole body donation facilities (separate from the funeral home) routing the families of dying individuals to their funeral homes so in the end (no pun intended), the deceased ends up going full circle and the body donation company does not have to pay out to anyone for the cremation fee's. I mean those "Administrative duties" ends up being paid back to the same people that own both companies....., it is a mess.

If you go to a Body Donation website and they refer you to a specific funeral home, well, you got it! OR if you go to a specific Funeral Home website, and they refer you to a specific Body Donation website..... AGAIN, you got it!
So what do they do with the Bodies?
Education - Bodies may be split up, with the head sent to students learning brain surgery or nose jobs while the legs are packed off to students learning knee surgery.
Researcher - criminal forensics expose cadavers to various environments and observe how they rot on “body farms” and the like.
Forensics - Law enforcement, both federal and local prefer shooting cadavers or torsos full of holes to determine ballistic match tests, some prefer human cadavers over pigs.
Automobile Industry - Cadaver research in automobile crash tests contributed to the development and testing of such devices as lap-shoulder belts, air bags, dashboard padding, and safer windshields.
Military and Ballistics - They are used to test military equipment such as body armor. Testing footwear designed to protect against land mines has been controversial--apparently some people are offended that a body donated to science would be blown up rather than patiently sliced into tiny pieces.
Medical Instrument - The medical industry find corpses helpful for instructing doctors in the use of new devices or procedures; the training process involves learning from mistakes, which works out better when the subject is already dead. Artificial joints are often tested on cadavers.
Pharmaceutical - These companies pick up the odd glands for hormone extraction and the like. Thus using these glands/hormones to create and test medication that they then charge you outlandish prices on.
Entertainment - Then there's the occasional special project. Surely few will forget Gunther von Hagens's Body Worlds, in which the human cadaver is presented as a bazaar educational display. (Someone is making money on those tickets they sell).
These are just a few... but you can not select one over the other for donation. You gave the body away to the "middle man" to do what they choose for those "Administrative Fees".

So What is the Donation Company Making off of the Body?
Honestly? I don't know, but back in 2000, according to the Orange County Register, It was estimated that one body was worth up to around $220,000. CEO's who run these "non-profits" earn upwards of around $600,000 a year (in 2008). Mind you, these were all "Donation" facilities, be it whole body donation or organ and tissue donation.

Prices for Body Parts (taken from Annie Cheney's.....

Body Brokers: Inside America’s Underground Trade in Human Remains - 2006

Head                       $550–$900
Head without brain $500–$900
Brain                       $500–$600
Shoulder (each)       $375–$650
Torso                        $1200–$3000
Forearm (each)        $350–$850
Wrist(each)              $350–$850
Hand (each)             $350-$85
Leg (each)                $700–$1000
Knee (each)              $450–$650
Foot (each)               $200–$400
Cervical spine         $835–$1825
Eviscerated torso    $1100–$1290          (Without Organs)
Torso to toe             $3650–$4050
Pelvis to toe             $2100–$2900
Temporal bones      $370–$550
Misc. organs (each) $280–$500
Vagina W/Clitoris   $650-$850             (who would want this? What if it was your Mothers?)

Whole Cadaver         $5500–$6500 (Notice how this is about the price of a Funeral?)
So now you know why whole body donation is popping up everywhere and also you can bet the administrative costs for moving the part fall along the same line as the body part. REMEMBER! It is illegal to sell a body part BUT there is a way to sidestep this law by charging ADMINISTRATIVE FEE'S it is not illegal to charge an administrative FEE, no matter how ridiculously high they are those FEE'S are not regulated. If you are considering this, ask your whole body donation company just how much those fees are and ask them to SIGN a statement to the affect of those fees being correct.

As you can see, this is not about compassion, this is not about trying to save humanity or doing the right thing or whatever THEY want to call it or however they try to make it look legitimate or compassionate, it is about greed and profit. You are being conned into donating your loved one to a person and a company you do not know so the CEO's and staff can get wealthy off of your generosity, good will and loved one body that will be sold off in the form of those administrative fees long after you say goodbye. They will sit in a freezer until it all passes, them taken out and auctioned off. This is the bottom line of whole body donation is. Don't be fooled.

There are a few good Non-Profits out there, Donor Network of Arizona is the only federally designated not-for-profit, organ, tissue & eye procurement program for the state of Arizona. Consider if you will. They got a good thing going on. I don't need to say anymore about them. Notice how It is not a WHOLE BODY DONATION program? Get the picture?

This is a very big secret as to what goes on behind closed doors. But! you can rest assured that down the line somewhere, someone, somehow is making something. Due to the fact that this type of business is not regulated by the federal government, very little is known about what happens after the body reaches the body donation companies facility. From there, it is a privileged dance. In Arizona, The Arizona State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers has absolutely no oversight of this type of business, none. Who does? Who knows.... But people do not work for free, that includes the Doctors, Administrators and Attorneys (including Board Members and CEO's) that this multi-BILLION dollar business is being supported by. All this by donating a body? I think not.

Read "Body Donors Fueling a Booming Business" for more information on cash in and out.

Federal Regulation?

Regulation? Well, there really is none, and because of this, whole body donation agencies have been popping up like ticks on a dog on a hot summers night.
Only the legal next-of-kin of the deceased can provide the necessary consent for donation if the donor did not provide it to the specific accepting program prior to death.
Body donation IS NOT REGULATED through a licensure and IS NOT INSPECTED by the federal government and local government in most states. The legal right for an individual to choose body donation is governed by the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (if you are going to donate, please take the time to read this) which has been largely adopted by most states. Laws relating to the transportation (movement) and disposition (disposal) of human bodies apply.

The American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) provides accreditation to non-transplant tissue bank research and education programs to establish that the level of medical, technical and administrative performance meets or exceeds the standards set by the AATB. Whole body donation and non-transplant tissue banking remains an industry with limited regulation, and while it is not a legal requirement, accreditation allows for individuals choosing to donate their body to medical research or education programs to choose a program with the highest quality standards. The AATB has been in existence for a while, there really is no need for a second organization to establish the guidelines needed to oversee this type of practice.


The American Medical Education and Research Association (AMERA) is a peer-recognized national accrediting body in the United States that exists to provide accreditation to body donation organizations. They do this by providing those standards that they developed solely for non-transplant purposes. This encompasses whole body donor organizations, university anatomical programs, bio-repository programs and end users of human tissue. AMERA encourages the industry to become accredited and involved in establishing standards that are relevant to non-clinical tissue organizations. AMERA operates under rules established by AMERA. This is a body or "organization" that is made up of companies or organizations that basically deal in body donation or "are in the business" of body donation. Body donation companies that are trying to set their own guidelines, standards and make their own rules. Sounds Fishy? You decide.

MY OPINION - Because I could not find much  information on AMERA, we must look at this as being a "PEER-RECOGNIZED" organized and is attempting to write its own laws to accommodate its own needs and possibly to side step ethical and moral guidelines for some sort of profit. Again, little is know about it at this time because I could find very, very little on this agency on the Internet.

In Conclusion, Something for nothing?
Please remember something, this is America, few people do something for nothing, anything that has the word "FREE" attached to it and is providing such a complex and complicated service such as whole body transfers and a go between for research & development companies and families, is not, I repeat not doing it to make "nothing" at all on the service, even Non-profit organizations make cash somehow so you can rest assured that someone, somewhere is profiting on the body that is being donated, be it through administrative fees or whatever, their is a profit somewhere.


While payment for body parts intended for transplantation or therapy is "illegal", "processing fees" are permitted, and body-part trafficking for research and education is largely unregulated. This has led to some abuse:
The head of the willed-body program at the University of California, Irvine was fired in 1999 for allegedly selling spines on the black market.
The director of UCLA's program was arrested on similar charges in 2004. 
Michael Brown, The owner of California Crematorium, (Bio-Tech Anatomical) a well known and respected Southern California crematory was arrested in early 2003, tried and convicted in the harvesting and sale of body parts on the black market that had been donated by families and rejected and even some that were not donated at all. (he cremated the parts not sold, Who's to know? right?) He received a 21 year sentence for his disregard for the law. This included body parts infected with HIV aka the AIDS Virus and Hepatitis. He made well over $400,000 on his short lived career as a body part harvester. Again, this is a mess.....

Louis and Gerald Garzone, a pair of brothers who ran a funeral home in Philadelphia, pleaded guilty in September 2008 to selling corpses to a body parts trafficking company. The trafficking company obtained bodies from funeral homes in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey, and without family permission or medical tests, dissembled the bodies. They sold the parts (some diseased) to businesses across the United States be used for knee and hip replacements, dental implants, and more. The mastermind of the trafficking ring, Michael Mastromarino, also plead guilty to his charges.
In a recent exposé, USA Today claimed there was a "lucrative, underground business driven by growing demand for human bones and tissue"

To be honest, after speaking with many government agencies about this topic, I have been lead to believe that this is a very secret and dark practice that has evolved over the last years that state and federal government are now realizing that they need to get a hand on controlling this practice as it spins out of control.
Good Luck...


  1. Di you ever end up contacting anyone at AMERA to see what they are all about? I know the AMERA folks and their standards were the first to be published and are more stringent than AATBs standards.

  2. No I did not, in the day of the internet, I find it really dificult to understand why anyone would have to go in search of information on AMERA when they have the option of placing it on the internet for all to see. No to stand in defence of AATB, but they have been arround as an accrediting agency for a very long time, why do we as a society need two? I dont know, I dont promote or recomend ANYTHING that has to do with anotomical donation. I dont believe in it and I dont support "For Proffit" organizations that do operate under those For Proffit guidlines. I am not a genius, but I'm sorry, I do some reaserch on the internet to put my BLOGS together, and in regards to whole body donation, these are the items I have followed up on. Thanks for asking though. Thank you for showing an interest.

  3. still its not a good idea to sell or donate your whole body.

  4. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it
    seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.
    You clearly know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on
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    us something enlightening to read?

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    1. I only posted this "ONE" video as a reference point, I don't think I revolve any of my BLOGS around videos. This one video is about a story in Arizona, the state I live in, But many of the references I am relating to are about personal experiences I have had. I am not a collage educated man, I am a retired Marine who owns a funeral home and I interact on a daily basis with the community who has experienced the good and bad of this "Whole Body Donation" thing. I share those experiences they had, and come to my conclusions around their feedback and that information I find on the internet about the industry, both good and bad.

      Miguel Legaspi

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  10. I don't know if I'd be so quick to endorse Donor Network of Arizona... unless they're paying you a kickback. Salary and bonuses don't count as profit. In early 2014, the FBI raided Biological Resource Center, founded by Stephen Gore. Gore previously worked for Donor Network of Arizona. During the time he was working for them in 2000, there was an incident where Gore went to a hospital to harvest the eyes of a patient that had just died, Dominic Marion. When the body got to the funeral home, it was discovered that the genitals had been harvested without consent. There have been a couple of other complaints of Donor Network of Arizona taking more than they got consent for. I have a feeling they do that way more often than anyone knows. They just cremate the evidence. I'd be curious to know how many other people had that happen to their family member but just never filed a lawsuit.

  11. About Donor Network of Arizona: The mutilated corpse case happened in 1996 and if you read the New Times article on it, Gore was pretty much ruled out by the medical examiner on this fact: that the amount of blood on the sheets was most likely that of a living person (perimortem injury), not one whose body part was removed 5 hours after death (when Gore removed the corneas). A person close to me worked at DNA as a recovery tech and I can assure you that the techs there do good work in a dignified manner. The job can be rough sometimes (children) and you work all over the state at all hours, but the satisfaction that you are helping people in need overrides the difficulties. Recoveries are generally taken in mortuaries, hospitals, and medical examiner offices, and provide a vital service for people needing transplants. I know 2 people who have been recipients of donation: veins during breast reconstruction surgery following cancer, and corneas. DNAs work is done in a very dignified manner and I am signed up in their registry for when my time comes to contribute something to humanity. My dad chose a different path: Science Care. He liked the whole body research angle as his grandfather was a doctor. Dad died at home and when they came to get him, they were very professional and courteous. They even snipped his whiskers for us to keep since we knew the option my dad chose would not give us back his ashes (they even asked us if we wanted to change this preference but we decided to honor our dad's wishes). You shouldn't live your life in fear of what happens to your shell when you depart. You can bury or cremate a whole, intact body, or you can donate life saving organs and leave a piece of yourself here on earth as a benefit to others. Your choice. Just don't make it out of paranoia.