Funeral Burial, Cremation, Whole Body Donation: What is the best option for you?

Mourners at a funeral with cremation urn in forefront

Death, though a natural part of life, does not come without fiscal burden or emotional stress. When you think about an end of life option, your mind likely goes to the choices of either a traditional burial or a cremation. Two well-known options; but both seeing consistently rising price rates for many years. From December 1986 to September 2017, The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers tracked funeral expenses and within 30 years the price for the services rose 227.1%.

Let’s focus on the more “cost friendly” and increasingly popular option of cremation. In 2018, the average in Arizona and California for a low cost (direct) cremation was $630. A direct cremation will typically include a simple container and no viewing, memorial service. On the other end, the average for a high cost cremation was $2,635. The high cost includes more typical viewing services including fees for the funeral home services, a cremation casket, an urn and other small fees such as flowers, soloists, and obituary notices. Though this is a considerably smaller cost compared to the upward cost of $10,000 for a traditional burial, could this really be the better end of life option?

With funeral expenses on the rise every year, the financial and emotional burden on families can sometimes be too much. There is a third option to avoid high cremation (or funeral) costs, keep the process simple for family members, and benefit the future of medicine through educating doctors or disease research. This can all be achieved with whole body donation through Research for Life. Along with having the privilege to be allowed to donate our donor’s bodies to science, we also provide the services for cremation, transportation and filing of the death certificate to the county vital records system at no cost to donors or their families.

A funeral home will only be there at the end of life; but does nothing to offer hope to future generations through advancements in medicine or education. we choose to be with you every step of the way when you decide to become a donor. You can pre-register through our Donor Program. With whole body donation, you reduce the costs your family will face at the time of your death. You also give the gift of “HOPE” for generations to come. To honor our commitment and respect for the gift that our donors are offering, patients accepted through our Donor Program, will be accepted even if health conditions should change. Please note the limitations, there are factors that can void the acceptance of a donor. We want to give peace of mind to donors and their family members during these times and keep the process simple for loved ones.

Through our program you can expect professional and compassionate staff, 24/7 to be on call ready to assist you or your family. We always respect patients’ privacy, confidentiality and are held to the highest level of professionalism regarding donor information.

We believe that ever person has the right to choose whole body donation, your life, your right to choose how you will make a difference.

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Research For Life - Understanding Whole Body Donor Consent

Hello, my name is Garland Shreves, CEO of Research For Life. I want to take a moment to discuss some very basic information with you regarding consent forms, in general, that you may encounter when considering to donate to a whole body donor organization.

First and foremost, you need to understand and read the consent form, also known as the authorization form or document of gift, so you know what you are consenting to.  Ask questions of the organization if you don’t understand something. 

 All states require, under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, that consent be granted by an authorized agent of the donor or self-authorization before death.

Each state defines who in the consenting class has the most authority to direct donation. Such as the medical power of attorney, spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings, etc. and differs slightly in each state. 

Consent may be given by means of a verbal recorded consent or by a written document of gift.

Research For Life uses a written consent form which can be found on our website.

Understand that the donor or authorizing agent is giving the body to an organization. Once given it belongs to the organization to use in accordance with the consent form.

In other words, the donor organization is free to use the donor provided it does so within the terms

of the consent, it may not use the donor in a manner not consented too.  

The consent may state how the body may be used.  Educational and/or research purposes or some other purpose may be stated or in the discretion of the donor organization.

Research For Life provides cadavers and/or anatomical specimens for education and research purposes and does not do ballistic testing.

The consent may state that the body will be used in whole or in parts. It may also state that the anatomical parts may be used domestically and or internationally.

And most consents will cover some basic things like consent to test the donor for diseases and order medical records to help best determine the medical suitability for the donation.

The consent may also touch on issues like for profit or nonprofit status and if the donor or anatomical specimens will be used by one or more or both types of entities.  Remember that regardless of an organizations tax status they all charge fees to end users who order anatomical specimens and offer those specimens to both for profit and nonprofit entities.

From the very start of the donation process costs to the donor organization begin. 24-hour answering service, transport team to respond 24/7, qualified trained staff paid a livable wage with benefits and retirement, electric, gas, phone, insurances, building payments, maintenance, medical director, and regulatory requirements, and cremation fees. And these are just some of the expenses that an organization may have to cover.

Another item you may see on most authorization forms is a release of liability, a hold harmless agreement, excluding misconduct of course.  

Research For Life states clearly it will not and donor or agent agrees that Research For Life will not be held responsible for acts of third parties in connection with the donation.

Another item that reduces a donor organizations liability is the Anatomical Gift Act prohibits criminal, civil or administrative actions provided there is no intentional misconduct on the part of the donor organization. In other words, if the donor organization acted in good faith it is immune and provided some protection from lawsuits.

Another important part on a consent form is the person signing the authorization attests (affirms) that they have the authority to direct the donation. The donor organization accepts the authorizing agent’s authority in good faith barring any information known to it at the time of donation that would contradict the authority of the person authorizing donation.    

Remember, should you decide to register, tell your family and friends about your decision.

Also, the donation authorization form is not valid until notarized or signed by two witnesses; one witness must be non-family or disinterested party. 

Consent forms contain other important information that you need to read and understand.

All documents of gift or authorizations can be cancelled prior to death.

I want to thank you for taking the time to watch this video and I hope it helped provide you with some basic information regarding whole body donation consent forms.  Thank you.