I totally want to do it.
This freaks my husband out.
See, when I was in college, I had an anatomy class where we worked with cadavers. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I was just an undergraduate anatomy student, so I wasn't actually dissecting anything, we were just mostly doing a lot of looking and labeling, but it was still pretty cool. We were never told the names of the cadavers, and we were also never told how the people died, although it was pretty easy to guess what the female cadaver with no breasts and no uterus died from. Also, we decided that that rock hard gall bladder of the other cadaver was probably not a good sign, either.
It was made very clear by our lab TAs that we were to treat these people with the utmost respect. No dangling of their intestines, no joking about their bowels. We could not give them nicknames (although to be honest, we called one of the cadavers "Tattoo Guy", for obvious reasons. And since he had no family with a claim on his body, that cadaver sat in that lab for far longer than any cadaver should. He was in rough, rough, shape.)
I always had the feeling that I wanted to thank these folks for giving us such a gift. And I thought it would be cool if I could give another student some day the same gift.
When I got diagnosed with PKD, that idea was firmed up in my mind. I mean, my kidneys are freakin' awesome, in a diseased kind of way--what anatomy student wouldn't want to see that? And I kind of feel like if I benefitted from somebody else's gift, I should pay it forward, and give that gift to another generation of students.
Needless to say, my husband doesn't see it that way.
First of all, medical stuff freaks him out, and the idea of people rooting around in my body doesn't sound cool to him, it just sounds freaky. Also, he said that if he is alive when I die, he wants to bury me properly, with a gravestone and everything, so he can come visit. He doesn't want my body lying on a cold slab--he wants it in the earth, where it belongs. I think that's silly--why let my body rot in the ground when other people can benefit from learning from it? Heck, what if studying my body gives clues to PKD, how it starts, how it progresses, why some people in a family get it and some people don't, and leads to a cure? If there is even the slimmest chance of that, isn't that enough to keep my body out of the ground?
I told him I didn't want to stay in a lab forever, just one year. I think the family can make stipulations about stuff like that. After all, I don't want to be like Tattoo Guy--that's seriously gross. But one year in a lab, teaching students about PKD--I really like that idea. THEN my body can be buried, or cremated, or whatever my family wants to do with me, whatever will bring them comfort.
My husband suggested that I was actually being selfish, that giving my body to science denies my family the right to properly grieve when I die. Maybe he's right. It's not dead people you have to worry about, it's who they leave behind. Maybe it IS selfish to ask this of my family, to have them manage all of the arrangements, etc. And it's not like donating an organ--that stuff is done quickly, right after death, with no disfigurement and with a promise of a proper funeral afterwards (not that anybody would want my organs--they all pretty much suck). Maybe this IS too much to ask.
As you can see, this whole thing is still very much open for debate at our house.
Anybody else have thoughts about donating things to science?
At the very least, though, when I get my kidney transplant, I'll save my old kidneys, if I can. Because seriously, who WOULDN'T want to see polycystic kidneys in a jar? That's just pure awesomeness.