More people donate their body to science: "Courageous and honourable decision"

Last year, 410 people in Flanders left their body to science, to be used for research by the different Flemish universities. The number keeps going up, and it is no longer a taboo. In fact, it's a way to give a meaning to your body after death, supporters say. 

It's All Saints' Day today, the day on which people flock to the cemetery to remember family or friends who passed away. Some decide to donate their body to universities, to help science. 

Professor Paul Herijgers of Leuven University (KU Leuven) calls this decision "very courageous and honourable". He underlines that students in various subjects such as medicine, dentistry or physiology need a very strong knowledge of anatomy to be able to recognise complaints and choose a right treatment for patients in their later profession.

"Another group of 'users' are experienced doctors or surgeons who have to learn new techniques. Think of prostheses or implants. A third application is linked to pure research, where we look at how to implant an artificial heart, for example." 

But are there enough bodies at present? "We can always do with more, this would boost research", Herijgers says. KU Leuven received the most bodies last year: 130. Ghent university (100) was in second place. However, universities need to take into account their capacity to keep the bodies over a longer spell of time. After two years, the corpses are returned to the family.