Donating Your Body to Science

Medical students gain first-hand experience of the human body by dissecting cadavers - human bodies donated to medical schools. But is this still the best way to teach anatomy, and what are the alternatives? Are people generally favourable to the idea, or do some find it distasteful or immoral?

If you want to donate your body to a medical school, how should you go about it? What are the experiences of those involved in the process, and what happens to the bodies during and afterwards?

These and other issues were explored in an evening discussion between medics, historians and professionals working in this area and an audience invited from local communities around UCL.

This project aimed to:

  • Raise awareness of need for body donation and its role in medical teaching.
  • Enable the public to find out more about body donation.
  • Enable UCL staff to explore public perception of this topic.
  • Build skills of UCL staff and students to speak publicly on the subject.
  • Collect information to help fill knowledge gaps about public awareness of, experiences of and attitudes towards body donation

Speakers were each given a few minutes to cover points of interest, followed by a Q&A/discussion session with the audience. The audience was asked questions at the start and end of the talk, to explore their experiences of body donation. Posters were displayed for participants to add their comments to before and after the talk. Participants were emailed six weeks after the event for feedback. Information packs on body donation were made available on the day and via email to participants.

Project partners

Simon Edwards, Head of Policy, Royal College of Surgeons

Claire Bithell, Press Officer, Human Tissue Authority

Speakers

Vishy Mahadevan - Royal College of Surgeons (RCS)

Wendy Birch – UCL Cell and Developmental Biology

Shaun Griffin - Human Tissue Authority (HTA)

Louise Evans - London Anatomy Office (LAO)

Nic Fleming – Journalist, acting as Chair