DYING to tap into a new craze? An American professor who has donated his body to medical science is urging people to follow in his footsteps and join a growing trend.
The University of Edinburgh’s Anatomy Department has been inundated with requests recently from people who want to leave their body to the department. And Professor Joe Goldblatt is one of the latest to sign up to a future plan of action that will see him bequeathed more than likely to an earnest first year medical student.
The Executive Director of the International Centre for the Study of Planned Events at Queen Margaret University said he was inspired to donate his body to medical science by his mother, who gifted her own to a university in Texas.
The professor, 60, says he hopes his decision will inspire others to aid the advancement of medicine.
The Newington-based academic – who organised events for the White House before he moved from the US to Edinburgh five years ago – said: “Once you get to a certain age, you start thinking about estate planning. My wife Nancy and I had been joking about it a bit – ‘You can’t get buried in New Orleans, too humid! Italy? You don’t speak Italian!’ – but to be honest it was a bit of a conundrum.
“Then, when my mother donated her body, I was really surprised by how easy the process was made on the family. We just had to make one phone call, and everything was taken care of. There are no funeral costs as the school actually holds a service of its own, and the remains are also eventually given back.”
Although he admits some people have questioned his decision, the dad-of-two said the response has been mainly positive.
“Some people seem to be in denial about the fact we will all die one day, and just won’t discuss it,” he said. “But my family have been very supportive.
“Recently an elderly woman started chatting to me on a bus after she heard my accent. She asked if I was just visiting and I replied I was going to be here forever and ever! When I explained what I meant she told me she had just done the exact same thing, explaining she had applied to medical school when she was young and hadn’t been accepted – but now she finally knew she’d be going!
“When I got off the bus she shouted, ‘See you at the uni!’ and I said, ‘Hopefully not too soon!’”
Professor Gordon Findlater, Senior lecturer in Transition of Anatomy at the University of Edinburgh, confirmed the number of people donating their bodies is increasing.
He said: “At the moment we get about fifty every year and have inquiries every day. This increase isn’t only in Edinburgh but in institutions all across Scotland. I think people are more aware of the need for remains, and genuinely want to help.”
For more information on how to donate your body to science when you die, visit http://www.anatomy.mvm.ed.ac.uk/bequests/Body_bequest_info.pdf.