More and more bodies are being donated to science. Experts say it's not because people are robbing the grave. Apparently, people can't afford to dig that deep to pay for funeral costs. Is it another sign of tough times?
The University of Texas Health Science Center is seeing an increase in cadaver donations.
Human bodies used to be so difficult to come by that doctors were forced to rob graves for specimens. That was in the 1800s.
Fast forward to 2011 and human cadavers are still scarce, but recently UTHSC has more cadavers than ever.
"This is the first year that we've had just enough," said Dr. Omid Rahimi, UTHSC director of the "Willed Body Program". "And a few additional bodies," he added.
The economy could be breathing new life into cadaver donations. People are said to be skipping funeral costs and signing their bodies over to research.
"The economical factor might persuade someone after they decide they want to do this," said Dr. Rahimi.
After the bodies are thoroughly dissected for medical research, the remains are cremated and buried on the property. A ceremony is also held once a year to honor the cadavers.
"Donating their body will help thousands of patients," said Dr. Rahimi. He adds that it also brings closure for the medical students who practiced operating on the specimen. "They want to pay their respects and this is an opportunity for them," said Rahimi.
The Willed Body Program provides a way for individuals to donate their body to the UT Health Science Center for educational purposes. Students in the Dental School, School of Medicine, School of Health Professions and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the Health Science Center study the human body in this manner.