Facing the inevitable, with a thought or two to the future

I’ve labored over the lede for this post. I’ve tried a few different approaches because even I am not entirely comfortable with the subject. It’s something few allow themselves to even think about.

In truth, I hadn’t given any serious thought to donating my (dead) body to a teaching institution like McGill University until a colleague, Susan Schwartz, wrote a touching piece for the paper about the subject.

Here is Susan’s lede:

“Most of the students had laboured over their reflections, writing draft after draft as they tried to express their profound gratitude to the people they called their silent teachers — the men and women who had chosen to donate their bodies to science so that they, as first-year medical and dental students at McGill University, could study them and learn from them.”

The students were writing reflections and tributes for the “silent teachers” to be presented at a commemorative service for the departed and their families before the ashes of their final remains were to be interred in the McGill plot in Mount Royal Cemetery.

I handled the piece for the paper and our website, and by the time I was finished with it, I felt it was the right thing for me to do — though, I am still a bit unsure of whether I should leave my body to science or let it be harvested for organ parts to help save those in need of such things as a heart or a kidney etc.

You can’t do both: schools need whole bodies — and even then, there are parameters.

So, my plan is to leave my body to science, but if it is not acceptable, then they can harvest organs.


I’m not sure what is more important: teaching the future doctors and nurses of the world, or making life more livable for those struggling with failing organs.

What do you think about all of this?

— Jillian

6 thoughts on “Facing the inevitable, with a thought or two to the future

  1. There are over 7 billion people on this planet. Many of them die each day. Even just counting those in your own country, there ought to be more than enough fresh corpses to satisfy the needs of all for both donor organs and scientific study…if only folk can be persuaded to make this decision known to their loved ones before their death so that something can be done about it, rather than burning or burying human tissue that is of no further use to the owner but is invaluable to others.

    I carry an organ donor card and I am on the UK organ donor register. Whether you do something like that or give your body to science is “six of one and half a dozen of the other”. If everyone participated, there would not be a quandary.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. At my age, no one would want my organs for transplant. But that would be my priority. My wife asked, “What do you want me to do with your body?”.

    Well, right now, ravish it, smother it with lots of love…

    But when I die, it’s “whatever is cheapest. I won’t be around to care a twit”.

    But, if they will take it, my preference would be to donate it for a med school. The problem with that is that my wife has to take care of the transportation to the college.

    My Mother-in-law is a member of The Neptune Society, and they take care of everything. Transportation, cremation and scattering the ashes in the ocean of my choice. But the Neptune society can’t operate in most states.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In Quebec, they will transport your body up to 250 kilometres at no expense to one’s survivors, except for McGill, which only covers 60 or 90 kilometres, I believe. You might check with the college of your choice and see if they have a transportation allowance.


  3. It doesn’t really matter! Both are worthwhile uses of the body that one no longer needs. Since both are worthy causes, perhaps you should simply donate yours to the one that has the most difficulty meeting the needs of their end users.


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