What Do Funeral Homes Do With the Blood of the Deceased?

When we lose someone close to us, we often have questions we would like to ask but may not feel comfortable doing so. Some questions may seem too invasive or even morbid to feel comfortable asking a stranger. So, let’s discuss what funeral homes do with the deceased’s blood. 

Funeral homes drain the deceased’s blood and allow it to flow down the drain. This is an ordinary sink drain, as blood is not hazardous. So, the blood flows down the drain and enters the water treatment plant like ordinary waste.

Though this practice may seem strange, blood is not hazardous and can go down the drain. Let’s talk more about getting rid of blood and why morticians do it this way. 

How Do Morticians Drain a Body of Blood?

Morticians drain a body of blood by making a small incision on the right side of their neck, allowing room for the blood to drain. From here, morticians flood embalming fluid into the arterial system and force the blood out. 

Only needing a small incision to get blood out of a body may not seem realistic, especially when you consider that the blood is no longer moving through the body. However, the process of forcing it out with embalming fluid allows all of the blood to come out of a small area. 

Let’s take a step-by-step look into how this works. 

The Body Is Set

First, the mortician will set the body. Often, rigor mortis has already begun to set in, so there is usually some stiffness in the muscles of the deceased. Morticians will massage and slowly work the deceased’s limbs into a more traditional funeral pose by folding the arms on the chest and straightening the legs if needed. 

This is done early in the process of embalming because the longer you wait, the more likely rigor mortis is to set in. So, doing it sooner allows for the limbs to be more pliable. The mortician is less likely to struggle to move the limbs or cause any damage to the body when setting the body is done sooner. 

From here, the mortician sets the body’s other features. 

The mortician forms the mouth to look as calm and peaceful as possible. If needed, the eyes are closed. During this process, the mortician works hard to make the body look comfortable and at peace in preparation for the funeral or viewing. 

The Body Is Cleaned

Next, the mortician removes the clothes and cleans the body. 

Clothing is removed from the body and returned to the deceased’s family. Even if there is blood on the clothes, morticians prefer to allow the family to decide what to do with the clothes, which means that families can still receive the clothes even if blood is present. 

After the clothes are removed and bagged to return to the family, the mortician will begin cleaning the body. The body is washed with soap and water to remove any dirt or blood that may be present on the skin. This is a simple but lengthy process as it is important that they clean the body thoroughly. 

Blood Is Pushed Out

After removing the clothes and cleaning the body, the mortician will begin the process of draining the blood. First, they will make a small incision on the right side of the neck because it provides easy access to the carotid artery and the jugular vein. 

Blood is not drained from the body by itself. 

Because of the lack of blood flow, the mortician forces the blood out by replacing it with embalming fluid. Morticians use the small incision that they made in the neck to feed two tubes into the body. 

The first tube contains the embalming fluid, which the mortician will push into the carotid artery, allowing it to flow through the body. Then the second tube is placed in the jugular vein to help drain out the blood from the body. 

Once the process starts, the tube containing the embalming fluid will use pressure to force the fluid through the body. The tube connects to a machine that will facilitate the speed and pressure. 

The mortician will decide, based on the body, how much pressure is needed to flood the body with the embalming fluid and push the blood out. 

During the process, the embalming fluid will essentially flood the arteries, pushing the blood out of the body, through the tube, and down the drain. The mortician may also massage the body to ease the transfer of fluids and allow the fluid to more easily make its way through the body. 

Blood can be washed down the drain like many other fluids, so morticians don’t need to dispose of it any other way. While it may seem strange, the blood passes through a filtration system before being recycled. The mortician will filter out the blood before it becomes an issue. 

After the Draining

Once the blood is drained and replaced with embalming fluid, the body is cleaned again with soap and water to remove any blood spots that may have shown up during the draining process. 

After washing the second time, morticians will apply lotion to the face to keep the skin from dehydrating. Then, the body is covered and kept in the preparation room until it is time for the mortician to add makeup and clothing and put the body in a casket. 

Before placing it in the casket, the mortician will apply makeup, jewelry, clothing, shoes, and other things to the body. This will make them look more peaceful and like they did when they were living. 

Funeral Home and Memory gardens burial grounds.

What Do Funeral Homes Do With the Organs of the Deceased?

Funeral homes leave the organs of the deceased in their bodies. During an autopsy, the organs may be incinerated or placed back into the body, depending on the family’s preference. 

Let’s break down the process for handling organs in a dead body and what morticians do with them. 

Removal Through Autopsy Process

While the number of autopsies has decreased in the US, they still happen every day. When they do happen, the bodies are treated with the same level of care and respect you expect from the embalming process. 

However, how the mortician handles the body is a lot different. 

During an autopsy, the organs of the deceased are removed and inspected for imperfections. If the family did not state a preference for what they want to be done with the deceased’s organs, then the mortician can either incinerate the organs or place them back in the body. 

If the family specifies that they want the organs placed back into the body of their loved one, then the mortician will take them out while performing the autopsy to examine them. Then, they will wrap the organs in plastic and return them to the body before sewing the body shut. 

Sometimes, there are parts of the deceased that require further study or examination that morticians can’t perform right away. If this is the case, then part of an organ may be kept by the mortician. 

In this case, the mortician will place the rest of the organs they do not need for testing back into the body. 

When a mortician performs an autopsy, they preserve the organs with embalming fluid as they would if they were just performing ordinary embalming. However, if they plan to incinerate the organs, then the mortician will not do this. 

When incineration is the goal for an autopsy, the organs are removed and examined. However, the mortician won’t fill them with embalming fluid as the preservation of these organs is not vital. 

However, there is an exception to this. The organs may be injected with embalming fluid if the mortician needs to further examine them. But, the mortician will still fill them with embalming fluid to preserve them despite the plans to incinerate them. 

Traditional Embalming Organ Process

The traditional process of embalming organs is a lot less detailed as there is no need to examine the organs. In the embalming process, once the blood is drained from the body and replaced by embalming fluid, the organs also need to be treated. 

Embalming and preserving organs is an important part of the embalming process because it allows the mortician to work with the body longer. Before the mortician pumps the fluid into the organs, the mortician will puncture most of the organs in the body to allow gasses and fluids to escape. 

This allows the mortician to fill organs with the fluid without fear of overfilling. 

In traditional embalming without the need for an autopsy, the embalming of organs is done through a small hole in or around the navel. From here, the mortician can reach the necessary organs to perform the autopsy without cutting the body any further. 

Is the Blood of the Deceased Safe To Use?

The deceased’s blood is safe to use for about 6-8 hours after their death, barring any blood donation limitations concerning their health. However, the deceased are not able to donate their blood. 

If the deceased wished to donate their organs, then they could allow their organs to help a living person. However, blood is a different story. Blood is not something that people can donate after death. So, morticians must throw the blood away. 

There have been many studies done regarding the deceased’s blood and how it could help the living. 

This study is one of many that shows that the blood of the deceased is safe to use to help a living person as long as there are proper tests done on the blood to ensure it is safe and clean. 

In the study, researchers tested the deceased’s blood to ensure it was clean and ready to use. The patients that received the blood of the deceased did not show any adverse effects from using that blood for the entirety of their hospital stay. 

Just like ordinary blood donations, researchers can test the blood of the deceased for blood type and infectious diseases, which ensures the blood is safe to use. Medical professionals can store blood donations for about a month before they need to use them. 

So, blood donations of the deceased could help many different patients, both current and future. 

With so many clear signs that the deceased’s blood is safe to use and donate, it brings into question whether we will begin to use it as a source. Blood donations continue to decline, according to the Red Cross, so this presents an opportunity to seek other options to help keep enough blood supply for those who need it. 

Though for now, it is still only an option to donate blood when living, but it may be worth considering for the future if blood donations continue to decline. 

For many organ donors, the goal is to help another person with their organs when they die. The same goes for those who donate blood. If that carried over into death, then we would have a larger selection for blood. 

No matter what your loved one prefers, their blood can’t be donated or given to someone. It will be drained through the process discussed above when morticians embalm them. However, the studies done on the deceased’s blood show that it is possible to use the deceased’s blood. 

The process may change in the future, considering the shortage of blood donations. 

Final Thoughts

Funeral homes don’t have to do anything specific with the deceased’s blood. In fact, they just let it flow down the drain, which may seem odd, but morticians can safely allow it to go down the drain. Our water filtration system is built to filter the blood properly, which means that there is no health risk. 

Morticians push the blood out by injecting the deceased with embalming fluid to replace the blood. Though the process may seem simple, it can get messy and requires the right tools to get the job done. 


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Alex Noel

Hi there! I'm Alex Noel and live in Indianapolis, Indiana. I started this website to share my experience. My goal is to provide Americans a more fulfilling goodbye.

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