What’s a body worth?

How much is your body worth? Between $ 5 and $ 45 million, depending on what you count.

Photo source: http://www.datagenetics.com/blog/april12011/bones.jpg

If you are into the basic things in life, than you’ll have to settle for just about $ 4/ $5 (or if you are lucky a little more, depending on the calculations). That’s the cost of all the chemical elements in your body combined. About 93 per cent of the body mass is oxygen, carbon and hydrogen, and the rest is made of: nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus  (about 5.5 per cent), and smaller amounts of potassium, sulphur, sodium, boron, manganese, arsenic, uranium, tin and zinc. It seems that the most valuable contribution to the cost is Potassium (the best “percentage in the body/cost” ratio).

Or, if you prefer to think big, than the cost of a body can reach up to $ 45 million (according to Wired magazine).  This price is based on the costs of bone marrow, DNA and women’s eggs. The vital organs are much cheaper (http://www.cnbc.com/id/35835483/What_s_Your_Dead_Body_Worth?slide=11 ), with prices ranging from a couple hundreds of dollars (hands, heart), up to a couple of thousand dollars (like the head).

What made me start talking about this? Well, I heard a professor today recollecting some of the quarreling motives of his professors at Medical School: who should perform a certain dissection, who was the owner of some new dead body’s brain or what was the cause of death of a recent corpse? One of this stories goes like that: the porter of the Medical School displayed an interesting malformation of the cranium and being aware of the interest his brain raised he sold it in advance to 3 different professors. When he died and the time came to collect the brain, surprise- each one of them had the proof of ownership… 🙂

There was a time in the History of Anatomy and Medicine when the quest for dead bodies made them valuable commodities, sought for their value for “generating knowledge”. A culture of dissection that started the tradition of seeing an individual as made up of material parts (like a giant mechanism) that can be broken down in order to better understand him/her. Nowadays, for reproductive medicine, transplant surgery, biotechnology etc. the view is taken further: dividing a body and selling/exchanging its parts, reconfigures our understanding of what a body is. There are several consequences of these practices and questions that can be raised.

One of them being: how much should a body worth?



2 thoughts on “What’s a body worth?

  1. Kazuo Ishiguro arunca o privire romantata asupra „costului” moral al unui corp uman in Never let me go. Si cartea si filmul sunt destul de interesante.

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