My sister did not have a will when she died suddenly in her 30s. Our entire family was able to confidently say "Yes, she wanted her organs donated." We found out later her liver saved one man who wrote my family a letter a year after the transplant. We then asked and were told her skin, corneas, other organs, were used to help more than 2 dozen people total. It was actually comforting to know a piece of her was still out there and helping others.
This is fantastic. This was someone's personal vehicle, their own quiet place they took everywhere with them. The medium with how they experience everything in this world. Now they are done with it they want it to continue to do good for others. My grandmother did this. I miss her but it does make me proud to be her grandchild and I will definitely be doing the same when I've had my fun here.
My grandpa (I never met him) died in the 60's, he wanted his body given to the medical school. My mom is doing the same, has convinced my step dad to and I plan on doing so as well. I don't need a little piece of land that nobody ever gets to use again. And my mom always used to tell me her dad viewed it like this.. "when I'm dead, I won't need my body any more, If some drunk med student breaks into the lab, cuts my arm off and hangs it up in the frat house as a prank, they're still getting more use out of it than I am." Sounds like he was a pragmatist.
So, I'm a doctor, but went through medical school recently and was quite involved in the anatomy department whilst there.
Each person (cadaver/ donor) was used to teach ~ 30-40 students (i.e. 10 people in first year would study the limbs, 10 people in upper years would study the chest, 10 people would study the abdomen .etc).
The cadavers were treated with a lot of respect, and nothing was thrown away (all bits were saved and kept with the body). At the end of the academic year when we had finished learning from them they were cremated, and some of us went to a memorial service. Some of the donors' families were there, and were offered the urn to keep or scatter, the rest were scattered in the nice woodland cemetary where the service took place.
Both donating organs or donating body to science are wonderful things to do as even after you have died you're still helping people (and hopefully by proxy the doctors that you help train will go on to help even more people). It's the gift that keeps on giving.
The only thing that would make me hesitate is that from death to cremation could be ~ 1 year, which might not be cool with your family if they have strong feelings about these things.
I've always said that this should be the way.
I got an extra 13 years with my dad thanks to someone else's heart.
When my fiancee passed away suddenly a couple years ago, I found it oddly comforting to know his bone marrow and retinas moved along to someone else.
Pregnant Cow Escapes From A Truck That Was Taking Her To The Slaughterhouse And Gives Birth To A Wonderful Calf