Problems With Medcure Whole Body Donations

by Cynthia Clark

MedCure, formed in January 2006, is an organization that accepts whole body donations for medical research and to supply educational institutions with human cadavers for medical training. Based in Portland, Oregon, Medcure arranges and pays for the transfer of donations to its facility without any expense to family members of the donor. Whole body donation is ideal for some individuals, but may not be suitable for everyone.

BBB Report

As of October 2010, the Better Business Bureau shows MedCure Inc. has an A rating and has been an Accredited Business since December 2007. At this time the BBB reflects that there have not been any consumer complaints against MedCure in the past 36 months. It also appears as if there have not been any government actions against Medcure.

Control of Donation

Once a whole body donation has been made to MedCure, the family releases control of the donor's body or specific organs and tissues to MedCure. The family should initially discuss any wishes to have a body, organs or tissues used strictly for medical research, if they are not comfortable with the idea of the donation being used in medical school settings. It is not possible to request cremated remains at a future date, so that matter must be addressed at the time of donation for return of the remains in four to six weeks after the donation.

Decision by Family

The majority of problems with whole body donations arise out of a failure for donors to communicate their wishes to family. As with all organ donation, it is imperative that the decision to donate to MedCure be made before or immediately after death. Potential donors should make the decision to donate early and inform their family. Leaving the final decision up to family members at the onset of grief can be an emotional burden, and creates unnecessary feelings of misplaced guilt. Some family members may object to whole body donation out of ignorance of the process or personal beliefs. Donna Freedman of MSN Money made whole body donation as part of her final arrangements to ease financial stress on her child and to benefit medical science. She made the decision before a crisis such as terminal illness or a debilitating accident, allowing sufficient time to discuss the decision with family members. When delicate decisions are discussed early, little room for doubt exists that this is indeed the donor's wish.

Emotional Closure

Donating to MedCure may not give all family members and friends the emotional closure. For some individuals, the reality of seeing the loved one in a viewing of an open casket creates a greater sense of finality. Memorial services can be held after the death, and/or at the time any cremated remains have been returned.

Special Requests

Requests for cremated remains and a letter describing the fulfillment of medical research and/or educational needs that were met by the donation should be made at the time of donation. In the whole body donation, the entire body is not always used. A family may request that only the organs or tissues affected by a specific disease be harvested for research.

Rejected Donations

Even after an individual has supplied all necessary paperwork for a donation, their body may be rejected at the time of death. In the event of a serious accident, the body may be too badly damaged. Should the donor contract an infectious disease, the donation will be rejected based on information at the time of death. MedCure states that it is not able to accept bodies that have Hepatitis B or C, HIV/AIDS, active tuberculosis, history of illegal drug use, incarceration or severely under or overweight at the time of death. Organ donation for the purposes of transplant may in some cases interfere with a donation to MedCure, but this should be discussed with the MedCure staff.

About the Author

Cynthia Clark began writing professionally in 2004. Her work experience includes all areas of small-business development, real-estate investments, home remodeling and Web development. Clark is skilled in a number of design disciplines from digital graphics to interior design. Her diverse background and commonsense problem-solving skills allow her to tackle a variety of topics as an online writer.

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