Why you should donate your health data (as well as your organs) when you die
Most people are aware they can donate their organs when they die. Doing so is very important: Each deceased donor can save several lives if he or she donates his organs and tissue and they are used for transplantation. Support for organ donation among members of the public is very high – at over 80 percent in some countries, even if many people have not yet gotten around to registering as an organ donor.
But organs aren’t the only thing that you can donate once you’re dead. What about donating your medical data?
Data might not seem important in the way that organs are. People need organs just to stay alive, or to avoid being on dialysis for several hours a day. But medical data are also very valuable – even if they are not going to save someone’s life immediately. Why? Because medical research cannot take place without medical data, and the sad fact is that most people’s medical data are inaccessible for research once they are dead.
For example, working in shifts can be disruptive to one’s circadian rhythms. This is now thought by some to probably cause cancer. A large cohort study involving tens or hundreds of thousands of individuals could help us to investigate different aspects of shift work, including chronobiology, sleep impairment, cancer biology and premature aging. The results of such research could be very important for cancer prevention. However, any such study could currently be hamstrung by the inability to access and analyze participants’ data after they die… Read More>>