Sunday, April 06, 2008


If you throw away my words after I’m dead I’ll disappear completely. I want to leave something; need to be more useful than a flash of selective memory in the minds of family and friends. I’d love it if some future relative unearthed my scribblings and were entertained and hopefully stimulated enough to make changes in their lives, because of me; I hope to be more than an image in a scrapbook (of my making).

The other night, I watched the dead body programme; a new Horizon for the future of our parts, where medical schools can put in an order for a bunch of knees or a clutch of forearms, with hands attached. Apparently there is a huge market in human spares; the actual parts are not for sale – the cost is for the work involved in the butchery process.

So, do you want to leave your body to medical science? Yes, I think I might. There was a mention of a website at the end of the programme, I popped in there and eventually found the site I was looking for, with the information on how to put yourself in the hands of probing students. This is the link to The Human Tissue Authority.

It’s not just the working, warm parts that are useful and necessary:

After you die they can strip skin to be used as grafts

A spine costs $900 and is used for testing orthopaedic implants

In the US corneas are worth $6000 a pair for transplanting

Forearm & hand is only worth $383; used for surgical practice; learning techniques, like keyhole

Tendons can be up to $1000 each

Shoulders are complicated to remove, $510 each. They’re used for orthopaedic research and surgical practice

So, treat this as a kind of living will. My body doesn’t really matter to me. Of course I might be too old, or riddled with something that would make them reject me when the time came; there might be a glut of cadavers. In that case just stuff me in a rented coffin, straight from the morgue to the fire...with no services or witnesses. I won’t be there - I’ll be in the pub with you!

Though, wouldn’t it be great if, by then, there’d be a way to extract thoughts and memories from our brains; complete productivity.

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