Some universities offer a body bequest program to assist young students in science and medical faculties.
Some universities offer a body bequest program to assist young students in science and medical faculties. Photodisc

Body bequest back in arena

BURIAL or cremation has long been the question, but the option of donating your body to science is creeping back into discussion.

Marne Prinsloo, who is studying Biomedical Science at the University of the Sunshine Coast, had always been a strong advocate for organ donation, but more recently decided to go the whole hog.

"I'm not going to use it (my body). It doesn't really matter what happens to it after I go," he said.

"I was always for organ donation and I guess because my mum is a nurse and I'd like to be a doctor one day, you can learn a lot from organs and bodies when you donate a whole body.

"It's really when I started doing a lot of science-related stuff at school and into uni."

Mr Prinsloo said his appreciation for body bequesting had grown even stronger when he had the chance to see the donation in the flesh.

"I went down to the morgue in Brisbane and we went through different systems and it's much true to life: it's an actual body," he said.

"You always see the pictures of the body in the books. It's an artist's rendition. You don't understand it until you see a real body.

"I've never been scared of blood or death or anything like that.

"It's part of life. You always have to respect the body. It's not something you can go and hack at with knives. You need to respect the body that still has family members."

Mr Prinsloo said he had spoken at length about organ and blood donation, not so much body donation, but believed people were more receptive to that than they were many years ago.

"There's still a stigma around it, but it's becoming more accepted," he said.

"People want to learn more."

The topic of donating your body to science has been thrust back into the headlines since Prime Minister Julia Gillard's late father bequested his body.

The University of Queensland conducts a Body Donor Program through the School of Biomedical Sciences, which accepts donations of human bodies to assist the school in providing educational and research opportunities for staff and students in the health, medical and science disciplines.

Most bodies are used in undergraduate teaching dissection programs which allow students to develop a fundamental knowledge of the human body.

Expressions of interest in registering for The University of Queensland's Body Donor Program are accepted from persons aged 18 years or older who live in Queensland's south-east corridor, including the Sunshine Coast.

No upper age limit exists for body donor registrants.

The Griffith University School of Anatomy, based at the Gold Coast campus, also administers a Body Bequest Program to support education and research.

While the University of the Sunshine Coast does not allow such a service, academics and higher-degree research students often conduct research involving human participants.

A USC spokesman said the amount of human research being carried out was increasing rapidly, and the figures for 2012 had already exceeded the 135 new applications that were approved in 2011.

"About half of these research projects are conducted by academics and half by doctoral, masters and honours students," he said.


Body of Facts

University of Queensland's Body Donor Program - visit donor-program

Griffith University's Body Bequest Program - visit development-alumni/giving-to- griffith/body-bequest-program


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