The LifeLegacy Foundation, a nonprofit organ and tissue research bank, wants the bodies of those who have died from specific diseases that researchers are studying. Many of their donors have different forms of cancer, dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, and other conditions.
Researchers need organs and tissues of people who have died with these diseases to examine and further their research. But they also need healthy people to apply, too.
“We can’t take everyone,” explained Cynthia Adkins, Donor Development Manager for LifeLegacy Foundation. “We take an average of 75% of donors that we accept from all over the country, and it’s not because we wouldn’t love to take every one, it is specific to what the researchers are looking for.”
Researchers send requests specifically for tissues afflicted by cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, or other conditions, and LifeLegacy helps make a match for donors. The Foundation works with local funeral homes to arrange the transportation of the bodies from the place of death to one of LifeLegacy’s sites in Tucson or Chicago. This explains why the organization has a booth at the NFDA convention, to make more connections with funeral homes.
Organs and tissue to be studied are sent to researchers. The rest of the body that remains is cremated and returned to the family, at no cost to the family.
People don’t have to do the paperwork to register for the program before there’s a death. In the case of dementia, the person may not be able to make their own arrangements. The person who has power of attorney while the person is still alive or the estate representative can make the arrangements after death.
UPDATE: As of February 2017, Science Care has taken over the day-to-day operations of LifeLegacy Foundation and Legacy Placement Services. Said Brad O’Connell, CEO of Science Care, “By combining efforts and areas of expertise, we will continue to build and strengthen our service to the public and the medical community.” Learn more about the change at this page at www.ScienceCare.com.
Watch this short interview with Cynthia Adkins to get a quick overview of the process.