One question that comes up now and again is how one would go about donating their body to medical research. One of Donate Life Illinois’ coalition partners is Biological Resource Center (BRCIL), whose mission focuses on this process. I recently connected with Don Greene, director of operations at BRCIL, for some further insight.
What’s Biological Resource Center’s primary mission?
Our mission is the advancement of medicine through the recovery and placement of non-transplantable donated human organs and tissues. We were founded to further the cause of research and medical education in order to study specific diseases, develop new surgical techniques, assist in the creation of progressive medical devices, assist with surgical training of physicians, and develop medical student’s skills in complicated anatomical studies. Our mission is accomplished by our dedication to our donor families, respect for our donors and to the altruistic values they hold dear when they make the unselfish decision to donate their body to science. We treat them with honesty, respect and dignity.
Can someone that becomes an organ donor also have their body donated to medical research?
Yes, about 30% of our donors are shared donors with Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network. Unlike university based donation to science programs which require 100% of the anatomy be intact, our program encourages that all our donors be on the Illinois Donor Registry or signed up with their respective state programs.
What concerns do people have when it comes to donating their body to research?
Every new donor or donor family we meet with have different questions about our processes. Two of the most common questions are; how much will this cost us and how long will it be for the donors cremated remains to be returned to the family?
There is no cost directly related to the donation. Biological Resource Center pays for the removal of the donors remains from place of death to our facility. All necessary city, county and state permits required for donation and cremation are obtained and paid for by Biological Resource Center. Once the donation is completed, the cremation of the donor is also paid for by Biological Resource Center. The only cost the family is responsible for is the certified copies of the death certificate, which varies depending on which city or county death occurred in, and if the family is in need of any other funeral service like; posting a death notice in the local news paper, printing memorial cards, or setting up a memorial service.
The second question about when cremated remains are returned to the designated family member or friend is usually 14-21 days after the donors death. Unlike university programs where donors are kept anywhere from 6 to 9 months we are able to proceed with our procurements and return remains in a more timely manner allowing families closure and the opportunity to proceed with memorial masses or services soon after the donors death.
Tell us a little about BRCIL’s new memorial.
The memorial garden is the first of its kind in the United States. We will be dedicating a monument to all those who have donated an organ or tissue for transplant, research or education. We have purchased over 24 burial plots and over the next several year begin to create a memorial garden where family members and friends can visit and lay flowers or just remember their loved ones.
We are currently taking request by our donor families that wish to have their loved ones cremated remains buried on the site. In April 2010 we will begin to bury those Biological Resource Center donors cremated remains at no additional charge to the family. We are inviting all our donor families, friends, pre-registered donors and anyone else interested in attending our dedication ceremony. In the spirit of Donate Life Month the ceremony will be held at the Elm Lawn Memorial Park in Elmhurst, Illinois on Saturday, April 25th at 11am come rain or shine. We will have representatives from Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network and the Illinois Secretary of States’ Office of Organ Donation to help us with the dedication. For more information and updates about the ceremony you can go to www.brcil.org.