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Question

 

Gramps,

Does the church have an official position on donating one’s body to science, etc?  Medical students need human cadavers to learn on.  Some people might think it is disrespectful to the body, but I don’t think so.  I think it is a gift, much like organ donation.

Thanks,

Don’t-wanna-be-worm-food

 

Answer

 

Dear Don’t-wanna-be-worm-food,

I was unable to find a specific statement directly related to donating one’s entire body to science. However, I was able to find applicable guiding principles. Let’s look first at organ and tissue donation.

In the February 1988 Ensign, Cecil O. Samuelson, Jr. gave an excellent answer to this question. I recommend you read the entire thing, but some of the most relevant points include:

“And, as with many other important aspects of life, we have been counseled to study the information, make decisions, and pray for wisdom about our choices. (See D&C 9:7–9; D&C 58:26–28.)”

 

“The Church has taken no official position on organ transplants. It seems obvious, however, that organ transplantation does not affect one’s resurrection, since the organ would soon have returned to the basic elements of the earth following death anyway.”


“While the matter of vital organ transplantation remains a highly personal one, it deserves prayerful consideration.”

I don’t know when the church added this topic to the handbook (before or after Samuelson’s answer), but in section 21.3 of Handbook 2, there are policies related to this and other health issues. Let’s look specifically at the one related to organ and tissue donation:

“21.3.7 Organ and Tissue Donations and Transplants: … The decision to will or donate one’s own body organs or tissue for medical purposes, or the decision to authorize the transplant of organs or tissue from a deceased family member, is made by the individual or the deceased member’s family.

 

A decision to receive a donated organ should be made after receiving competent medical counsel and confirmation through prayer.”

 

In addition to this policy, there are ones about cremation (not recommended), euthanasia (violates the commandments), and this:

“21.3.8 Prolonging Life: … when dying becomes inevitable, it should be seen as a blessing and a purposeful part of eternal existence…. These judgments are best made by family members after receiving wise and competent medical advice and seeking divine guidance through fasting and prayer.

All of these policies remind us of certain truths we learn in the scriptures:

1) Our bodies are sacred, temples, “yea, man is the tabernacle of God”. (D&C 93:35, 1 Corinthians 3:16)

2) We should consult with God in all things. (2 Nephi 9:29, Ephesians 6:18, D&C 78:2, 2 Nephi 28:30)

3) The resurrection is very real. (Alma 40:23)

In addition to these gospel principles, you should carefully consider the thoughts and feelings of those who love you.

Given these guidelines, the proper course would be for you to:

First, study the issue with careful consideration. Among the questions to ask yourself, include the question of whether the people to whom you donate your body will treat it with the respect due a temple of God. (That others have donated their bodies to science is not relevant. This decision is for you to make about your temple, given what you know.)

Then, make a decision and pray to your Heavenly Father to know if the decision is right. When you do this, be willing to accept the answer no matter what it is.

I hope this will help you to prayerfully come to the decision the Lord would have you make.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

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