Donations to science increase following rising funeral costs

March 16, 2016   //   No Comments

As reported recently in SAIFinsight, The Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee has flagged up the ‘dramatic’ rise in the number of applications to submit bodies for research.  This is believed to have been caused by people trying to avoid funeral costs.  The centre receives up to 200 applications each year, from which it accepts 80 bodies for medical studies. That figure is up from only 20 bodies 10 years ago. Some people may donate their bodies to science as a thank you for treatment by the NHS, or because they would prefer to avoid a funeral due to personal beliefs.

However, with the price of funerals rising over recent years, the centre’s director Professor Sue Black said: “It is not unusual for our bequeathal secretary to receive calls that will relate to concerns over funeral costs.”  The department not only receives applications from Scotland, but also England and Wales. Professor Black believes that other anatomy departments across the UK are experiencing a similar situation.

The Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee has launched an inquiry into funeral poverty, and is being urged to help people understand that bequeathal is not an alternative to paying for a funeral.  Many people may not know that bodies can be rejected from anatomy departments due to disease, post-mortems, or a lack of space, resulting in their families retaining the unexpected financial burden.