Donor

Up until this month, even though I was an enthusiastic participant in dissections, I would never give my body to science for such a dissection.  My reason was not squeamishness about being cut up, or about jokes being made over my bowels, but about the process of embalming.

In embalming, your blood goes one way, and the rest of your tissues another, permeated by formalin instead.  I like my blood, regard it as an essential part of ‘me’ – actually, I specifically regard it as a big part of my emotional expression – and I am unwilling for this separation to occur.  We are very careful, in dissection, to make sure that all the tissue from any given body stays with that body for final cremation at the end of the dissection.  And yet a significant part of that person has already been drained away and sent elsewhere – the blood.

My will makes quite specific requests that I not be embalmed.  This is difficult to escape, as the powerful undertakers’ lobby has long since assured themselves of business by getting a law passed that no body can hang around for more than 48 hours without being embalmed, except under special circumstances.  That means, to avoid this awful procedure, I must be cremated within a couple of days of dying (which has become fine with me, though I would rather be buried to feed the earth without the benefit of either a box or fire).

It has always irked me that I was a willing recipient of the gift of body donation, and yet I was unwilling to do it myself, because of this irrational but deeply-held belief of wanting to keep my blood with me.  But now, I have an alternative: if I can be fresh-frozen, I am glad to offer what remains of me to such students as myself who might learn from them.

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