Whenever I sit down with folks that live here in Nova Scotia, to work out their end of life plans, often “I want to donate my body to Dalhousie” comes up during the conversation.
Sometimes people are thinking it is an effective strategy to reduce the cost of body disposition to their estate or to their family. Some like the idea of using their body as a legacy for teaching opportunities that medical students can learn from.
Sometimes they like the idea that certain body parts will be used for research.
I always suggest, whenever this comes up, that people consider having a back up plan.
Here are some facts about the Dalhousie University Human Body Donation Program:
- Dalhousie University accepts donated bodies from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
- Potential donors need to register for the Dalhousie Human Body Donation Program.
- The decision as to whether or not your body will be accepted will be made at the time of death.
- Your body may not be accepted into the Dalhousie University Human Body Donation Program at the time of your death, even though you may have pre-registered. On their website, they do not specify exactly why they would not accept your donation however they do say it could be because of “a number of complex reasons.” They do encourage having a back up plan for your cremation or burial.
- If your body is accepted into the program, it could be used to teach students human anatomy, or be used for research purposes.
- After the Dalhousie University Human Body Donation Program is done with your body donation, of what remains, will be cremated. They list 3 disposition options:
* interment of your ashes in the Dalhousie Memorial Gardens, in Lower Sackville, a private for profit cemetery;
* ashes can be mailed to the next of kin;
* next of kin can pick up the ashes from Dalhousie.
Be sure to ask how long it will be until the remains are cremated and returned or interred.
The Dalhousie University Human Body Donation Program clearly states on their website:
“The family or estate is responsible for all other arrangements and costs connected with the interment of the ashes.” (Dalhousie Interment link)
Planning to donate your body to the Dalhousie Human Body Donation Program, is a great idea, for those who want to help science improve knowledge and advance understanding though research. However if you think this will alleviate your need to make a plan for what to do with your body when you are done with it, you may be mistaken and in the end cause more stress for your family as they scramble to figure out what to do if your donation does not go as planned.
Need help making a decision about donating your body to Dalhousie or to register for the program? Contact the Dalhousie Human Body Donation Program directly at 902-494-6850
Need help with your “Plan B?”
Contact Roxanne Walsh, End of Life Mentor, Certified Funeral Celebrant, and Author of Planning for a Good Death: contact or call 902-293-2423 for a free consultation.