The cadaver overload

1 minute read

I hesitate to pass along this story, but I think it’s probably of general interest to anthropologists: “Overload of bodies fills Tennessee morgues”:

There are more unclaimed bodies at the Davidson County medical examiner's office this year, as families found themselves unable to cover the expense of a funeral and burial. So many bodies have been donated to science in Tennessee this year that the Vanderbilt School of Medicine and the University of Tennessee Body Farm have stopped accepting cadaver donations.

The story has a long section about the UT facility:

"This weekend, we had to turn down three donations," said [Lee Meadows] Jantz, noting that the 1.3-acre Body Farm, where donated cadavers are studied under various environmental and terrain conditions, is at capacity.
"We aren't accepting any new donations, because we don't have room for them."
While the university has temporarily stopped accepting unclaimed cadavers from county medical examiners, it will continue to accept pre-planned donations and family donations....

Donations are so tremendously valuable to schools and research programs – and it takes a tremendous amount of work and planning to deal with them. So few facilities will be equipped to handle a sudden surge of demand, and that’s what we’re seeing here. You can’t plan death, but most facilities will be very happy to help with advance directives.