Anatomical Donation Program Offering Free Cremation -- Supports Families and Medicine

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Life Quest Anatomical, an Allentown, Pa. based whole body donor program offers free cremation to those who donate their bodies to support medical science.

Whether it's planning for the future or due to a death of a family member or friend, there is just so much information available today. A traditional funeral, still the most widely recognized and accepted form of final disposition, is still the number one choice of families in the US. Emerging from the ashes of the Civil War, the funeral industry was born of a necessity to dispose of a body after death. The funeral industry has since grown into a multibillion dollar industry that has expanded the services they offer to the ever growing and changing population of the United States. Embalming, while the subject of scathing criticism early on, was introduced to the world by the public viewing of an American president. Abraham Lincoln was that president. Today funerals range in cost from $6000 to the sky's the limit.

The 1960's saw a growing trend in cremation, another service offered by funeral homes. Although cremations were being performed in some areas of the country, again the act of incinerating a body after death was as foreign and shocking as was a viewing and a funeral at one time. The changing cultural landscape gave way to acceptance and the public embraced cremation just as they did funerals. The time was right for such an industry in each of these instances. The public, not having a way to dispose of the body, accepted both forms of disposition. As a result, The American Funeral Industry and it's many services were ingrained in our neighborhoods and in the fabric of our lives. Today, cremations account for roughly 27% of all dispositions after death in the United States and range in cost from $1500-$4000.

In what is probably a sign of the times, more and more people are showing an interest in whole body donation. An anatomical gift is managed and carried out very much the same way a funeral home would manage a funeral. This can be done at the time of need when someone is about to pass or within hours (usually 0-48 hours) following death. Every aspect of the donation is handled by the donation program. This includes transportation (both local and to our facility), information is gathered and filed for death certificates, the donor is matched up with medical education and or research projects based on their condition and medical history. The cremation is provided with cremated remains being returned in as little as 30 days. Here is where the similarities end. All of this is done at little to no cost. What's little cost? LQA, a nationwide anatomical donation program, asks a family to pay a paperwork processing fee plus the cost of death certificates with an average cost of $150. The no cost option is for families who have a financial hardship. Programs supported by Life Quest Anatomical are the leaders in medical education and research leading the way in the instruction of advanced surgical techniques, the study of disease, and the research and development of new technology.

Statistics from 2005 suggest that the shortage of doctors is so severe that enrollment of medical students has to grow aggressively in order to counter the booming population. Of particular interest is that as the baby boomers are reaching retirement age so to are their doctors. Some estimates speculate the doctors of the baby boom generation will be retiring by the year 2020.

Consider this. Whole body donation with little to no cost, can support a rebounding population of medical students and continue the advancement of medical science. Cancer is killing 553,000 Americans a year. Almost 700,000 Americans die each year of heart disease. Numerous other diseases are taking the lives of hundreds of thousands more. Vladimir Sarlat, Executive Director of Life Quest Anatomical's whole body donation program suggests, "It seems logical that if more doctor's are needed, then so to are more anatomical donations to support medical education and research. With a dramatic and sustainable shift in access and acceptance into mainstream America, whole body donation should play a major role in reversing this disturbing trend."

Funerals then cremations were once thought of as inhumane and are now the dominant forms of disposition. This is not likely to change. But what must change is the number of people seeking information on body donation, the number of people donating their bodies to support medical science and ultimately the availability of cadavers available to medical researchers and educators. For additional information on whole body donation visit

About Life Quest Anatomical:
Life Quest Anatomical is located in the beautiful Lehigh Valley in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The program exclusively supports many of the top medical school research and teaching departments in the United States. Among the many areas of study we support are; Alzheimer's Disease, Cancer studies (many forms), Heart Disease, Women's' Health care, Neurology and Orthopedic studies to name a few.


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Vladimir Sarlat
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