• Question: When you die, what happens the cells in your body?

    Asked by 428bera39 to Triona, Shikha, Kevin, John, Colin on 10 Nov 2014. This question was also asked by clodagh :), aileenjcat, 228bera23, aaron, 582bera34, 534bera34.
    • Photo: Tríona O'Connell

      Tríona O'Connell answered on 10 Nov 2014:

      Some of your cells might be part of an organ that gets donated to someone who needs it. Those cells get to continue living (as does another person who needed them).
      The other cells die as they run out of fuel and oxygen.
      Then your cells get burnt to an ash if you get cremated, or get to rot and be eaten by fungi in the soil if you get buried.
      There aren’t many options for a cell with no living body to live in…

    • Photo: Kevin Motherway

      Kevin Motherway answered on 11 Nov 2014:

      Just like any other energy or matter in the universe once your body dies all you matter an evergy will disspate back into the cosmos. Your body will get cold (or you’ll heat up the earth). You cells breakdown and release all their nutrients back into the ground. You will essentially become food for microbes and insects that will recycle you back into the ecosystem in which we live. Every atom in your body is from star dust and in the long term will return to cosmic dusts again!

    • Photo: Shikha Sharma

      Shikha Sharma answered on 11 Nov 2014:

      Hi 428bera39 and clodagh,
      Nature is really efficient in breaking down human cells. When we die first our heart stops pumping blood, thus depriving cells of oxygen, which then begin to die. Decomposing starts as soon as we die, our skin changes color as the blood stops circulating. But different cells die at different rates. Skin cells can survive over 24 hours after death whereas brain cells die within a few minutes.
      Soon after death rigor mortis occurs (complex chemical reaction involving lactic acid and myosin), this forms a gel like substance which create body’s stiffness. The microorganisms of intestine do not die with us so they start the job of decomposition immediately and then our entire body becomes their meal for another few days 🙂 Even our own enzyme released by dead cells help these microorganisms to further breakdown the organic matter.