American medical schools are experiencing a spike in the number of people leaving their bodies to science, The Associated Press reports. For example, the University of Buffalo has doubled its donations to 600 cadavers over the past decade, whereas the University of Minnesota has nearly tripled its donations to 550. Medical researchers attribute the upswing to two main factors: less stigma around the practice, which has long been at odds with some religious customs, and rising funeral costs. Bodies used for research are typically cremated and returned to their families at zero cost once study is through. The rise is especially helpful for medical students and researchers who dissect cadavers in anatomy labs or use them to practice surgical techniques. One surgery professor calls these donations “priceless,” because plastic cadavers and virtual anatomy programs can only offer so much.
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