Human bodies have been important in the history of medicine. As far back as the 200s BCE, Greek physicians were dissecting human remains in order to better understand the workings of the human body and to treat patients. Over the several centuries since this practice began, human dissection has become more, not less, important to the training of current and future health care providers.
Initially body donation was poorly understood and typically only for poor or institutionalized individuals. Over time, with the appropriate legislation and awareness, body donation has become more common.
In Minnesota, approximately 2 percent of people who die each year have their bodies donated for education and research purposes. Over 35,000 bodies have been donated to the University of Minnesota since 1901.
No longer is body donation an option only for the poor or institutionalized. Anatomy Bequest Program donors come from all social, ethnic, and religious backgrounds and tend make a donation decision because they want to improve the quality of life for future generations and donation makes sense to them for this purpose.