Death + Technology Death + the Economy


Donate Your Brain, Save a Buck
Gary Stix, Scientific American (January 4, 2011)
Hard times are making tissue donation more appealing


The Great Recession changed the way many people live—and its repercussions appear to be altering how some people choose to die. At least two prominent tissue banks have seen an increase in the number of individuals who are interested in donating their bodies to research in exchange for a break in funeral costs.

This is isn’t an entirely new story: people donating their postmortem brains for medical science research in order to save on funeral costs. Death Ref has featured regular stories on this very topic in the Death + the Economy section. In fact, at one point in Autumn 2009 the Body Farm at the University of Tennessee stopped accepting dead bodies because it had received too many unclaimed bodies from local morgues. The Body Farm studies dead body decomposition, as well as other postmortem issues, to assist forensic investigators. Unclaimed dead bodies are not that extraordinary but the 2009 situation was different. In many cases, next-of-kin knew that the body was at the county morgue but couldn’t afford to retrieve said corpse.


So the uptick in cadaveric brain donation for research, and by extension a cut in funeral expenses is hardly surprising.

Indeed, the brain donation example is one of the current ways that the human corpse is being redefined as a source of biovalue.

Not purely a commodity but something rather close to it.

More on this in the future.

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