JOHN GILLARD’S FINAL GIFT. COULD YOU DO IT?
Do you care what happens to your body after death?
This morning it was announced that Julia Gillard’s late father’s body is being donated to science.
There will be no formal funeral for John Gillard (pictured right), who died on Saturday aged 83, but a private gathering, and anyone wishing to honour his memory is asked to make donations to his favourite charity, Medecins San Frontieres.
“John was a humble man who always sought to help others,” his funeral notice in the Adelaide Advertiser says. “He died as he lived and has donated his body to science and requested that there should be no formal funeral service.”
It’s a beautiful, pragmatic parting gift. Could you do it?
Donating your body to science means that your corpse – if you have died of natural causes – will be used by a university anatomy department to teach students the workings of the body.
It will be embalmed to stop it decomposing, refrigerated for some time while the body proteins settle, and also undergoes a series of chemical processes to preserve the tissues.
When it comes to be used to anatomy classes, there will be prodding, and sawing through bones, the stripping of skin to observe muscles, and rummaging in the body cavity so that students get the feel for real organs in a real body.
Each body part will be tagged to identify it, and after the body has been used for study, the remains can be cremated and the ashes returned to the family. In some cases the remains can be returned for burial.
The length of time the corpse remains with the hospital vary, but it may be some years.
There’s no doubt it’s a brutal and confronting process, but does it matter to a corpse?
Is the body merely a shell after death?
What do you think?