How long does a Borg drone live for, if not endangered and 'nature' is allowed to take it's course? I know that they still mature, case in point Seven of Nine who was assimilated as a child. Do Borg drones get age past maturity though, can they get old and die? If so how're they disposed of?
How long a drone survives is affected by the underlying physiology of the species having been assimilated into the Collective.
The two primary factors would be:
- The base lifespan of the species having been assimilated.
- How effective the nanoprobes are at repairing cellular/genetic damage.
The primary purpose of Borg nanoprobes is to prepare an entity for assimilation and the surgical adaptations required for the development and implantation of Borg technology. As such, they have many medical properties that aid in this process: nanoprobes repair cellular damage from bacteria, viruses and radiation. They have even been used to return a person to life that had been dead for less than 24 hours.
Though used by the Borg to exert control over another being, reprogrammed nanoprobes were used by the crew of the starship Voyager in many instances as medical aids. In one instance, the probes were used to revive crewman Neelix 18 hours, 49 minutes and 13 seconds after death by repairing his body, and are used to treat various visitors' ailments. --Wikipedia entry on the Borg
During the process of assimilation the nanoprobes rewrite the cellular DNA, biochemistry and neural network ensuring proper integration of Borg technology.
Creatures adapted by Borg technology will likely never know physical sickness as long as their nanoprobes are able to adapt and conquer any alien pathogens the drone is exposed to. Any creature who has Borg nanoprobes in their system should experience as long a lifespan as their species is capable of having. If a Drone is exposed to a disease that cannot be controlled or eliminated by the nanoprobes, they are likely isolated, until such time as their attempts to overcome the pathogen are successful. If they are unable to be successful, the Drone is likely destroyed completely to prevent further infection. The pathogen will be cataloged and recorded as a potential threat.
Using humans as a reference, we have two primary forces acting on us as we age, poor cellular reproduction and shortening telomeres. Cellular reproduction is the process we use to produce new cells to replace aging ones. Eventually that reproduction becomes less efficient as we are exposed to natural mutagens and background radiations. Sometimes cancer is a result of a failed mutation or cellular replication. The second force is the shortening of telomeres. As cells reproduce, a genetic marker falls away and its theorized that as long as cells reproduce, this shortening eventually ends cellular development and the death of the organism is the result.
It can be assumed the nanoprobes are effective in keeping cells reproducing effectively so it is unlikely Borg suffer from runaway cellular developments like cancer. We have not been given sufficient information to determine if the Borg nanoprobes keep telomeres from becoming shorter over the lifespan of creatures such as humans. If they did, a Borg human could theoretically be immortal since the two primary forces affecting the physical well being of the human body have been arrested. Alien species might have different aging factors but if the Borg technology can affect that genetic hardware, such durability would be a side effect of the Borg nanotechnology.
If the creature's telomere or long-term genetic viability cannot be arrested by the Borg nanoprobes, the creature should be able to survive to the oldest effective age of its species, likely maintaining physical vigor until nearly the very end of their existence. None of this conversation discusses issues such as neural development or what the rigors of an extended lifespan my have on the psychological state of a creature under the influence of the Borg nanoprobes.
As to their death: Upon death, it can be assumed the Borg nanoprobes are recovered and the body is converted into its chemical components and recycled into the Borg eco/tech system as a resource to be exploited. The Borg are highly efficient and would see anything less than the complete use of an organism to be a waste.