Health & Fitness

What Policies Regulate Body Donation Programs?

If you are thinking of donating a body to science after death, then you might be concerned about the handling and usage of your donated body. Body donations are precious gifts offered by kind people as a contribution to the medical field. Hence, certain policies and laws regulate body donation programs to make sure that the donated bodies are handled with utmost respect. In this post, we have discussed some of these policies that regulate body donation programs that donors should know about.

Institutions have developed policies for body donation programs that reflect the values and mission of the donor program, delineate the program’s roles and responsibilities, and describe the procedural requirements and general processes of the program. These policies address governance, donor registration, and consent, oversight and reporting structures for the program, users and uses, tracking, staff, financial models, etc.

Financial Model

If you are donating your body to science after death, look for programs that operate as revenue-neutral entities. Operating as a non-profit aligns with the ethical obligations of programs in order to support educational needs without generating profits to support non-donor program uses. The governing body decides how to use the profits generated by the body’s donation programs; they also calculate initial start-up costs and operational expenses for running the program. The budget is usually sufficient to permit staffing at a level that facilitates the separation of duties among personnel.

Body donation programs also ensure that they have licensed funeral professionals with training in embalming and mortuary regulations. Their fee structure permits the program to cover its costs without generating revenue beyond what is needed to meet its public service goals.  

Policy Education Program 

The body donation programs also implement policy training programs to educate end users about the program policies and appropriate use of human body donors. This ensures that the end users will follow policies and procedures outlined by the program and gain a greater understanding of the ethical considerations of working with body donors in research and education.  

The training is customized and tailored to the needs and specifics of each program and also considers the end-user interaction with donors. Hence, you can be assured that your precious donation will be handled carefully by well-trained professionals. CME or continuing medical education credits can facilitate greater participation.  

Educating Researchers 

Body donation programs provide researchers working with human body donors with the opportunity to learn about the issues associated with body donation. This helps improve the way they work with donors. Some topics that are addressed based on these principles include the following. 

● Procedures: An SOPM or Standard Operating Procedure Manual is developed to address administrative and technical procedures in order to document safety requirements and staff training. Other procedures are also designed to support established policies and committees. Developing clear procedures provides consistency in operations, a streamlined training process, and clarity for reviews.  

Policies on the Use of Digital Images of Donors 

The users of donated tissues are required to follow, disseminate, and enforce a policy on images of donor material that meets the terms of the body donation program. It is not illegal to publicly disseminate donor images that contain identifiable features. However, it may violate the donor consent and body donation program terms and conditions or have negative implications for others as the public may find images and their public dissemination to be inappropriate, upsetting, or offensive. This could result in a negative reaction to the users and the program, and the damages could include legal liability.  

Therefore, the organizers regulate the donor user with the above considerations in mind. The electronic images can only be generated with the written approval of the oversight committee and under the guidance of a designated person approved by the oversight committee. Moreover, electronic images can only be generated using equipment provided by the user and stored on their secure network. They are only made accessible to current students and employees of the user with professional interest.  

The users also have explicit policies regarding the publication of images for research purposes. Certain uses are also explicitly disallowed, like the transfer of images of the user’s network into end-user private computers; images of parts of donors that may be easily identifiable, like undissected faces and tattoos; transferring of images of donors with privately owned electronic devices like tablets, phones, and cameras; storing images on devices that are not password protected and encrypted. The IFAA has also published guidelines on the use of donor images. 

The Bottom Line 

With these policies and regulations in place, you can be rest assured that your body donation will be treated with respect and dignity and handled with care. However, it would be great if you made sure that the body donation program you choose is reliable and adherent to all the laws and policies to ensure compliance with laid down procedures.

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