Q&A with Body Donor

by Cassandra Sproles September 15, 2017

For more than 35 years, the Forensic Anthropology Center has been accepting donations of bodies to be placed at the outdoor research facility. More than 100 donations are received every year, the remains of which become part of the William M. Bass Donated Skeletal Collection.

Donor: Roy Crawford

Why did you donate your body to the research facility?

I have always loved science and technology and believed that we all have moral obligations to help each other by advancing knowledge. I had numerous relatives in the medical field, so I learned very young that medical schools use cadavers for study. I decided to donate my body to a medical school someday. In 1990, I had cancer and gave a lot of thought to planning, and soon thereafter learned of the forensic anthropology project and liked that idea better.

I signed up right away. What does your family think of your decision?

Since my family is based in Kentucky and closely related to its main university, I did not tell them of my donation. When a newspaper article eventually outed me, there was no opposition from them. Though my brother says he won’t come visit me!

Did your career have any impact on your decision to donate?

Before retirement, I was a coal mining and forensic engineer. Both came from my love of science and technology, but neither specifically influenced my decision.

What do you hope will happen as a result of your body donation?

I hope the study of my remains will help future forensic anthropologists identify unknown bodies and catch murderers.

For more information about the body donation program, visit fac.utk.edu


Illustration by Justin Helton (’07) of Status Serigraph

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