Lawsuits Threaten Body Donations
* Your Metro section of June 19 had an article regarding a donated body. It is distressing to those of us in such programs to hear of lawsuits, as we do not want to see these programs disappear.
My father died in February 1994. According to his wishes, his body was donated to a university that used it for research and teaching and in September 1996 advised us that the body had been cremated and the remains “respectfully delivered to sea off the coastline at dawn.” It seemed to our family that he had had an additional 2 1/2 years of usefulness, and we celebrated that.
The same institution will no longer accept any California bodies due to the paperwork hassles here.
My husband and I have changed our donation from that university to UC Irvine and are very pleased with their program. We do not intend to have any remains returned to the family. We just want our donations accepted so that the research and teaching that issue from these donations may continue. All close family members are informed of our wishes and respect them.
For anyone considering a donation, please be sure of the risks. It is usually much longer than a year that the body is used. It is true also that all of these programs are understaffed administratively, but that is preferable to the research area being understaffed.
The worst tragedy to us would be that such lawsuits as you reported will result in the universities not accepting donations.
* We have willed our bodies to UC Irvine’s willed body program.
We have just been notified that a law was passed a few years ago, whereby our bodies must first be held by a funeral parlor before being turned over to UCI.
This procedure will cause losses of body parts that are essential to the life of an intended recipient.
We believe that we have made a valid contract with UCI and see no need for a funeral parlor to infringe on the procedure of delivering the body of a donor.
The only reason we can conjure for the action of a funeral parlor is the charge or fee that they will insist on.
Several funeral parlors have already quoted fees ranging from $300 to as much as $900, and they claim that what they are doing (aside from hindering and possibly killing the organ donor plan) is following the directive of the Health Department, which we cannot readily understand.
If this is a law, or some scheme to ferret out a fee, let’s understand why. If so, why hasn’t a standard fee been declared so that each donor knows exactly what is involved, and prepare for the worst.