Funeral homes offering DNA preservation

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BOISE – There’s a major change in the U.S. when it comes to “end-of-life” decisions. More than half of all Americans are choosing to be cremated. And that’s created a whole new market for a brand new product: DNA preservation.

“The ability to take post mortem DNA and have it stored for the family can be very valuable,” says Cheryl Godbout of Cloverdale Funeral Home in Boise.

For about 300 dollars, a service called DNA Memorial can preserve a loved one’s DNA in a tiny vial for years to come.
You can even get the vial incorporated into a stylish glass keepsake.

“We’ve had very good response to it and a lot of interest in DNA right now,” says Godbout.

According to their flyer, DNA Memorial can calculate inherited disease risks for children and future generations.

“If you want to test it they can for anything from ancestry to diseases to different genetic things going on,” adds Godbout.

Of course, each actual test requires an additional fee of several hundred dollars. But is it worth it? KIVI asked Boise State University’s pre-eminent DNA expert, Greg Hampikian, what he thought.

“I don’t really see the informational benefit of getting a swab at death,” says Hampikian, “You have a copy of your own dna walking around with you.”

If you’re concerned about your own health or future generations, Hampikian says swab yourself.

“Should you ever want to do a test on yourself, it”ll tell you everything you need to know about your own health and the health of your children.”

But what about storage? How long will the DNA last if you swab your own cheek, or your parent’s, and put it back in the sealed container?

“I’ve seen DNA last 40 years at least and good long beyond that,” says Hampikian, “A lot of things are sold to preserve DNA. It’s not necessary.”

So, in the end, Hampikian says there’s not much scientific benefit.

But, if you just like having your loved one close to you, and many do, a keepsake may be the way to go.

At least it’s a lot more personal than a swab package.

The one area where Hampikian says DNA of a loved one may be truly helpful is to determine paternity. But, that can also be done more cheaply through some of the other DNA services on the market.

This article was first published with fellow CNN affiliate KIVI. It is used here with permission.

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