Medical schools around the U.S. have received an upswing in applications.
But these aren’t academic applications – they’re people that are lining up to donate their body to science post-mortem.
Institutions such as the University of Minnesota and the University of Buffalo’s donated cadaver count has doubled over the last 10 years, says the Associated Press. Experts are pointing to two factors: having a loved one’s body dismembered to progress medicine isn’t as taboo as it once was, and burying someone is simply very expensive these days. Schools that take cadavers for research will often cremate the remains afterwards, returning the cremains to the family at no cost.
Milton Larson is a longtime science teacher who succumbed to Parkinson’s disease in 2014 at the age of 82. He left his body to the University of Minnesota in “his last act of teaching and generosity.”
“To put it quite bluntly, you have to realize that they are going to cut the body of your loved one apart. That’s hard,” said Larson’s wife, Jean. She plans to donate her body to science now, too.
“This is the most generous donation we can make.”
Donated cadavers are integral in medical institutions. Despite how lifelike plastic, rubber, or virtual alternatives become, learning the human anatomy and practicing surgical techniques will always be better in the flesh.
“There’s no substitute for the real thing, because ultimately these people are going to be taking care of patients,” Dr. Michael Zenn, a surgery professor at Duke, told the AP. “It’s just a priceless donation.”