Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Few Words About The Humanity Gifts Registry

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Today, I have a guest post by Marianne Porter, who is not only my wife but the daughter of Mary Ann Porter, who died last month at age 103.

Here's what Marianne has to say:

My mother had decided years ago that she wanted her body to be donated for use in medical education. And when she died in early January, that's what we did.

In Pennsylvania, that process is handled by the Humanity Gifts Registry, and I am sorry to report that it is apparently staffed exclusively by insensitive, clot-eared dolts.

The evening after my mother's death, I spent considerable time on the phone with their answering service, who kept asking me questions about the resources of the funeral home handling the physical transfer. These were questions to which I could not possibly know the answers, and I asked why they hadn't asked the funeral director, when he called them about half an hour earlier. Evidently, they just weren't that organized.


Now, one month after my mother's death, I have a form letter from them, poorly written, poorly photocopied, and with a hand-written correction, informing me that they intend to cremate my mother's remains and bury them in their … mass grave? … potter's field? unless I notify them in writing (they note that they will NOT respond to telephone calls) within two months after the date of death, stating that I want the remains returned to me directly. Note that half of this window of opportunity has already passed. I rather hope the somewhat acid tone of my registered mail response will be noticed.

Please understand: I truly think that this, my mother's last gift to the society in which she lived and prospered for so many years, is a good and honorable action and I agree with it wholeheartedly.
But “clot-eared” is about the best I can say for the people managing it.


Above:  Yes, I've posted this photo of Mrs. Porter before.  But it never gets old.  And, really, this is the way we'd all like to remember her.

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1 comment:

Marian Meg Phillips said...

I love that picture of your mom! I have one of my mom at the peak of a small mountain she climbed near the end of her life.

My mom, a rn, and retired director of nursing did the same, but with better results. Dad delayed the funeral about a week. University of Md hospital took great care to honor her wishes and return her remains for burial. It was important to my dad that she be buried in the family plot...she'd already planted her favorite irises there.

I'm so sorry that they were so unthinkably crude and cruel to you and your mom.

Sounds like some reform is needed badly!