How to donate your body to science

Most people meet the criteria for donation with Science Care, including those with cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Certain conditions such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B or C, COVID-19 (symptoms, exposure, or diagnosis), extremely high or low body mass index (BMI), consent issues, location of residence or passing, legal issues, condition of body at the time of passing, or any inability to place the donation with current medical research or education projects at the time of passing may impact final acceptance in to the Science Care Program, including Science Care’s HOPE® Program.

Why should I donate my body to science?

What happens after a Science Care donor passes?

Notification Call

  • A loved one or care provider contacts Science Care to notify us of your passing. Call us 24 hours a day at (800) 417-3747 ext. 1.
  • A Science Care representative conducts a brief medical screening by phone to determine acceptance (If you’re enrolled in the Science Care HOPE® Program, this step may have already been completed for you).

Donation process begins

  • Science Care coordinates transportation to bring you or your loved one into our care.
  • Your loved ones are assigned a Donor Services Coordinator — a direct point of contact who will assist them through the donation process.
  • Science Care obtains any pending authorizations, death certificate information and medical social history needed to process the donation.
  • Science Care files the death certificate in the county of passing. Your loved ones are responsible for purchasing certified copies of the death certificate directly from the county.

Completion of donation

  • Specimens are procured for medical research, surgical training, and education programs.
  • The return of cremated remains not matched with a current Science Care program are returned to your loved one within 3-5 weeks following the donation.

Celebration of donation

  • Memorial Services: Many families will have a Celebration of Life or memorial service for their loved one.
  • Legacy Letter: In the month following the donation, Science Care emails a letter to the donation consenter, outlining current research programs at the time of donation.
  • Memory in Nature: As a celebration of life, a tree is planted in honor of each donor.

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Body, organ, and tissue donation is vital for researchers to improve their understanding of how diseases start and progress, and what keeps us healthy. There is no substitute for human tissue when studying the human body. Through donation, scientists are able to advance our understanding of disease and the development of new treatments. Research breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and more have been made possible because individuals chose to donate.

Body donation also plays a critical role in helping medical and health-related science students master their comprehension of the complex anatomy of the human body. Medical students and other healthcare professionals use human bodies to learn and perfect the skills that will one day benefit the health of society.

Body Donation 101

Donating your body to science is not the same as being an organ donor. Whole-body donation is slightly more complicated because there’s no single organization or network that oversees the process of matching donors with research programs and medical schools. Instead, the steps you’ll need to take to become a whole-body donor will depend on where you live or what type of program you want your gift to benefit.

Some states—such as Florida, Texas, Maryland, and Illinois—have state anatomical boards that you can contact if you want to become a donor. In other states, you must reach out directly to institutions and find out if you qualify for their body donation program.

The organ donor designation symbol on the back of your license does not imply consent for whole body donation. A whole-body donor would need to register with both the organ donation organization and the whole-body donation organization. Both organ and whole-body donations are extremely time-sensitive processes, so it’s important to talk to your loved ones and make sure they are aware of your preferences.

There are many whole-body donation programs that offer services at no cost to the donor or the donor’s family. The organization that receives your gift may cover the transportation and cremation costs related to the donation process. Make sure you talk to the organization about any costs associated with the end of life.

Donate

Do your research! There are numerous accredited organizations dedicated to providing valuable human bodies, organs, and tissues to medical researchers and students. Most institutions have comprehensive websites full of information; they also have people on staff who are ready to answer questions from potential donors.

If you want to help a particular research program, university, or hospital, contact them directly to ask if they have a whole-body donation program.

If you’re just getting started, you can browse this sample list of body donation programs by state. Keep in mind, many programs accept donors from out of state. A few accredited organizations you can also look into include Anatomy Gifts Registry, United Tissue Network, and Research for Life.

Information on how you can donate your body to medical science.

You can donate your body to medical science, through the University Of Cambridge, Department of Anatomy. Full information on how to do this is available on their website follow this link, donating your body.

To speak to someone in person the contact number for further information is 01223 333 776.

You are also able to donate specific tissues from the body directly to this hospital. The Addenbrooke's Tissue Bank is currently updating its guidance on the use of such tissue. More information is available here on the Tissue Bank.

You can also contact the Tissue Bank Manager directly on 01223 245151 / 01223 805000 or alternatively you can contact the Cambridge Brain Bank, the telephone number is 01223 217336 regarding donating your brain for research. The contact person is Jenny Wilson, Senior Research Nurse for Cambridge Brain Bank.

Cambridge brain bank

The donation of brain, pituitary tissue, spinal cord, and cerebrospinal fluid after death

You are probably familiar with organ donations of the heart, kidneys or eyes to sustain the health or even the life of people in need. Brain donation for research is a precious and unique gift. Scientists can learn and understand more about disease processes when they are able to work on donated tissue.

Ultimately, we hope that scientific work of this kind will lead to better and more effective treatments and that future generations will benefit from your help. There are many diseases affecting the brain. These include the various forms of dementia (such as Alzheimer’s dementia), and also brain infections, metabolic disease, psychiatric diseases and tumours.

Medical professionals involved in research and working with patients affected by these diseases need to study the tissue in detail, and this can only be done after death. The donation of brain, pituitary tissue and CSF, and on occasions spinal cord, after death is a big decision and needs to be discussed with family and friends.

Advice is available from the Cambridge Brain Bank research nurse Jenny Wilson who would be very happy to discuss any concerns or questions you or your family may have.

Contact details

Telephone number 01223 217336 or email Cambridge brain bank.

Or download the patient information leaflets below for further information

It is possible to donate your body to medical science after your death. To make the arrangements, contact the anatomical institute of one of the universities in the Netherlands, as this is a separate process to organ or tissue donor registration. However, if you are already registered as an organ or tissue donor, this takes priority over body donation.

Registering with an anatomical institute

To donate your body to medical science, you need to give consent to an anatomical institute. They will ask you for a handwritten declaration (codicil) stating that you wish your body to be donated to medical science after your death. You must also sign and date the declaration, which is then stored in the institute’s records. You and your family doctor will be given a copy. A list of all anatomical institutes in the Netherlands can be found on the website of Lichaamsdonatie (in Dutch).

What happens to my body after donation?

After your death, your body will be sent to the anatomical institute. It will not be returned to your nearest relatives for a funeral. It will be used to teach medical students and for research, for instance into new operating techniques.

Priority for organ and tissue donation

You may already be registered as an organ or tissue donor but also wish to donate your body to medical science after your death. In such cases, priority is always given to organ and tissue donation. Some anatomical institutes will accept a body after a donation procedure. It depends on the policy of the individual institute.

Do you donate your whole body, or just your organs? Who accepts donations? And what happens to your cadaver? Get the basics on body donation.

Roughly 18 years ago, a woman named Susan Potter asked to donate her body to science when she died. Now, she lives on as the highest-resolution digital cadaver that exists to date. Potter’s story, detailed in the January issue of National Geographic, has inspired many people to ask: How do I donate my body to science?

Bear in mind that if you decide to donate your body, chances are slim you will also become a digital cadaver. That process is highly intensive, and so far, only two people have become official Visible Humans. Instead, your cadaver will most likely be used for teaching purposes in medical schools. Sometimes, donated corpses even help teach forensics teams how bodies decompose, like in the program at the University of Tennessee’s Forensic Anthropology Center.

She donated her body to science, and now she’ll live forever

The United States does not have a centralized governing agency for whole-body donations, though the American Association of Anatomists has come up with a policy for how bodies should be handled when they’re donated. For instance, the policy states that donations must follow all state and local laws, and “donation literature should describe all possible uses of donated bodies at that institution.”

In many places, your state’s anatomical board is the main institution that accepts applications for whole-body donation, and that organization decides where the body is sent. In other states, such as Nebraska, the body-donation process is centralized through the state anatomical board, but the donor can choose which medical institution the body goes to. In yet other states, the state university system manages donations.

Generally, these institutions do not charge for body donation, though the University of Alabama asks for $750 to cover the costs of transportation, preservation, maintenance, and ultimately cremation. For-profit tissue brokers also exist. It is legal to sell bodies and body parts in the U.S., and some people choose to use brokers because they market their services and will cover the costs of claiming and transporting the body. Of course, then they will go on to sell the body parts, and the system is not closely regulated.

Certain physical conditions at the time of death can prevent acceptance to a whole-body donation program, including obesity, communicable diseases, jaundice, severe trauma to the body, and decomposition. Organ donations are handled differently from whole-body donations, and often times, an individual cannot be both an organ donor and a whole-body donor.

To find out who you can contact to make a body donation in your state, check out this list maintained by the Anatomical Board of the State of Florida.

The Body Donation Program in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia (UBC) has been in service since 1950. Over the years many individuals have donated their bodies for the purpose of anatomical study and medical research making a very special and valuable contribution to the education of our health care professionals and the communities they serve. The growth of the UBC Faculty of Medicine has created an increased need for donated anatomical material required for educational and research purposes. In order to obtain detailed and essential knowledge of structure and function of the human body, future doctors, dentists, rehabilitation therapists and scientists must study human remains as part of their training. The donation of one’s body is a very special gift to the future healthcare professionals of our community.

Most body donations are used for teaching purposes and will be the subject of student examination and dissection. However, some donations will be used specifically for medical and research training. These donations will help to advance surgical training techniques and enhance progress in areas of medical research. The UBC Body Donation program does not perform and is not involved in any individual- or disease-specific research, as this is more appropriately performed in tissue culture or living patients.

Students preparing themselves for careers in medicine, dentistry and related professions are fully aware of the special privilege granted to them and the obligation they have to conduct themselves in a professional manner during their training. People who donate their bodies to the medical school can be assured that all human remains are accorded the dignity and respect that our society customarily grants the dead.

As the custodian of the donations, the University ensures that the anonymity, confidentiality and dignity of our donors is upheld.

THE BODY DONATION PROCESS

You can register as a body donor by completing two copies of our consent form. Please read and check the sections on all 3 pages. After signing both copies of the consent form, return one copy to UBC and deposit the other with a close family member or your physician, who will be in a position to carry out your wishes at the appropriate time. An executor or next of kin may complete and sign an executor consent form after the death of a potential donor, or on behalf of an individual unable to give consent. Our donors have the option upon registration to consent to an indefinite donation: this allows the University to retain some of the anatomical material longer than the typical six month to three year period. This provides a significant contribution for the education of our students. It is also important that donors are aware that consent to donate one’s body may also include consent for tissue sampling, serology testing and medical imaging of anatomical material for educational and research purposes.

At the Time of Death

As soon as possible after death has occurred, the executor, next of kin or health care professional must contact the UBC Body Donation Program at 604-822-2578. Prolonged delay in notification can result in the decline of the donation. Please note that as a condition of acceptance to the program, we must receive the body within 72 hours of death. If death occurs outside regular business hours (8am-4pm, Mon-Fri), please leave us a detailed message, then contact Alternatives Funeral and Cremation Services at 604-857-5779. If a funeral service is desired it is strongly recommended that it take place in the form of a memorial service without the presence of the body. It is suggested that arrangements be made for this type of service prior to death. **In order to determine if a body is appropriate for donation, our staff must first contact the physician and family of the deceased. A medical history for the deceased will only be obtained after death. The executor/next of kin and physician will be notified once we determine if the donation can proceed.** Once accepted, we will make all of the necessary arrangements for transport of the body by our approved funeral home and licensed transport provider to UBC. If declined, it will be the responsibility of the executor or next of kin to make alternate arrangements for the deceased.

Accepted donations will remain under the care of the University for a period of six months to three years. In addition, if an individual has specified on their consent form that their remains be donated indefinitely, then a portion may be retained for use in teaching, training and research. After use, the University will arrange for cremation of the remains by Alternative Funeral and Cremation Services, and the executor/next-of-kin will be contacted to collect the ashes. All cremated remains must be claimed at this time. The University will bear the cost of cremation and simple urns. The executor/next of kin is responsible for providing any special urns, burial plots, monuments or memorial services for the donor.

Bequest of a body for anatomical examination, education or training.

Our license from the Human Tissue Authority allows us to perform anatomical examinations on donated bodies. We may also store and use the bodies for the purposes of education, training and research. This would be at Newcastle Medical School and our satellite sites.

Our network

They include the Newcastle Surgical Training Centre at the Freeman Hospital, and the Ear, Nose and Throat Department at James Cook University Hospital.

We also work with other medical schools and departments.

This ensures that we can use as many donations as possible.

We may also direct your bequest to another facility licensed by the Human Tissue Authority.

Make a bequest

We can only accept donations with the consent of the donor in writing. To make a bequest, please request a bequest pack containing all the necessary information and consent forms from:

The Bequeathal Secretary School of Medical Education Newcastle University
Framlington Place
Newcastle upon Tyne

Bequest registration

You should read through the bequest pack and discuss your wishes with your next-of-kin/executor. They will then know your intentions and can carry out your wishes after your death.

To register your bequest, you will need to complete two Bequest Consent Forms in the presence of a witness. Witnesses may include spouse/partner, next-of-kin, executor, friend or solicitor.

You should return one copy to the Bequeathal Secretary so that we can include your name in our register of potential donors. You should keep the second copy.

It is not possible to guarantee the acceptance of any bequest at any time. The main reasons for non-acceptance are if:

  • there has to be a Coroner’s post mortem
  • a person dies abroad
  • there is a severe infection (e.g. hepatitis, tuberculosis, HIV, MRSA, septicaemia)
  • a person has Alzheimer’s disease or senile dementia of unknown cause
  • a person has had a recent operation where the wound has not healed
  • a person has bed sores, varicose ulcers, oedema

It is possible to consider bequests from donors who have cancer.

Procedure at the time of death

A death should be notified to the Bequeathal Secretary by telephone as soon as possible, during normal office hours.

We are open Monday-Friday on 0191 208 6616.

We will make a decision on the acceptance of any bequests as quickly as possible.

For deaths occurring over a weekend, you should make arrangements to move the body to a local funeral director. They should have refrigeration facilities. Then telephone us on the next working day.

How to donate your body to science

The Department of Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Melbourne co-ordinates a Body Donor Program for the purposes of anatomical examination and the teaching and study of anatomy.

Bodies that have been donated to the program are used in the education and training of future healthcare professionals including medical, dental, physiotherapy, science and nursing students and are also used for the advanced training of surgeons and other specialists.

Each donated body is treated with great care and respect and, on completion of our studies, is cremated. Following cremation, relatives who have requested the return of ashes are able to retrieve them for commemorative purposes.

More information

Members of the public may apply to donate their bodies through our Body Donor Program, which complies with the Human Tissue Act.

Information for prospective donors is set out in the Body Donor Information Sheet

Consent Form

A consent form is available for download. Consent Form

To contact the Body Program Coordinator:

Phone: (03) 8344 5809
or
Email: [email protected]

NOTICE TO FAMILIES OF DONORS – 11 August 2021

Unfortunately with the announcement made on the 11 August 2021 by the Victorian Premier extending Victoria’s current lockdown until midnight on the 19 th August 2021 this year’s Commemorative Thanksgiving Service is unable to be livestreamed.

A video will be compiled and sent to families who have provided an RSVP at the earliest opportunity.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Department is unfortunately unable to hold the 2020 Commemorative Thanksgiving Service. Our hope is to be able to host a service next year and invite families of donors from the previous two years.

In lieu of a service we have welcomed Professor Shitij Kapur (Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Science) and our students to contribute their thanks with a video to honour the donors of 2019.

Please take a moment to watch the video and we look forward to a time when we can welcome you in person.

Our body donors contribute substantially to the quality of medical education. At the University of Melbourne we hold an annual Commemorative Thanksgiving Service to acknowledge the generosity of our donors. This service is attended by family and friends of our body donors, with anatomy staff and students of the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience.

How to donate your body to science

We have also commissioned a sculpture by renowned artist Heather Swann situated on campus in honour of our donors and which will serve both as a daily reminder to staff and students of the donor gift and also as a site of remembrance for family and friends to visit year round. The sculpture is located on the South Lawn of the Parkville Campus, near the Old Quad. For further information please contact the Body Donor Co-ordinator on (03) 8344 5809 or by email [email protected]

How to donate your body to science

Body Donor Coordinator
Department of Anatomy & Physiology
The University of Melbourne
Victoria 3010

Support medical research and education through anatomical donation—a gift of knowledge to the next generation of providers.

Anatomical dissection is a critical part of medical student education. Body donations support scientific research and the development of new and improved procedures at the UNM School of Medicine. 

If you are interested in donating your body to science, discuss anatomical donation with your family, doctor, attorney and/or clergyman. These conversations are important to ensure your wishes will be fulfilled.

Contact Us

Learn more about anatomical donation and how to become a donor. Call 505-272-5555.

How to Donate

All body donations are treated with the utmost care and respect. To begin the process, please complete the Consent and Supplementary Information forms [PDF]. The consent and supplementary information forms must both be filled out. Your signature on the consent form must be verified by a notary public.

Keep a copy for your records and then mail the originals to:

UNM Anatomical Donations Program
Department of Cell Biology and Physiology
MSC09 5117
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

You may also call the Anatomical Donation Program at 505-272-5555.

When we receive your completed form, you will be entered into our donor database and sent a donor card.
Please note that when we are under financial constraints, we will only accept donors within a 60-mile radius of Albuquerque unless the donor’s family is willing to assume the transportation charges. Please contact our office at 505-272-5555 for more information.

Other Ways to Give

Aside from anatomical donation, you can support the UNM School of Medicine in many other ways. See a full list of ways to give.

You can also give a gift in memory of an anatomical donor. Include a note with the donor’s name, next of kin’s name and address and your name and address. We will use this information send out thank you letters and an “In Memory Of…” letter of recognition.

Donation FAQs

Absolutely. Being a donor is completely voluntary. Please write or call to inform us of your desire to withdraw from the program and we will remove you from our database. Also, let your family know if you withdraw from the donor program. 

Yes. However, the deceased loved one’s body will not be present. Survivors or the donor’s estate must pay for memorial service expenses. 

No. Many donors are older than 100. Generally, donors are 21 or older, with an average age around 82. 

The person who notifies us of your death will disclose the cause and manner of death so we can determine whether the body is acceptable for the program. 

We will arrange to have your body transported under the authority of the UNM School of Medicine to our facilities in Albuquerque. It is important that the body is embalmed as soon as possible, within 24 hours.

The UNM School of Medicine will pay for:

  • In-state transportation, though there may be restrictions
  • Embalming and cremation expenses
  • Removal fees, if arranged or approved by the UNM School of Medicine or our designated agent

Please note: The donor’s family or estate will be responsible for removal fees if the family or their designated agent calls a funeral home directly.

The average stay is 18-24 months. After that, remains are individually cremated and either returned to the family or scattered at Sunset Memorial Park in a spaced owned by UNM.

Bodies are used for anatomy instruction for students in the professional health care programs at UNM. We also use donated bodies for research to solve problems or develop new medical or surgical procedures.

Yes. The UNM School of Medicine reserves the right to decline a donation. Although we appreciate every gift, in certain situations, we may not be able to accept a donation.

Safety Risks for Students and Staff

Certain diseases and activities present unusual to extreme biohazardous risks. The donation program will not accept donors with the following diagnoses or history of:

  • Active (unresolved) venereal disease 
  • AIDS caused by HIV
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • Death from or with a contagious disease, such as malaria, hantavirus, Ebola virus, etc.
  • Nontherapeutic IV drug use
  • Rabies
  • Tuberculosis
  • Viral encephalitis or spongiform encephalitis
  • Viral hepatitis (B or C)

Body is not Suitable for Research and/or Educational Instruction.

Certain conditions may prevent the program from accepting some body donations, such as:

  • Autopsy, whether by family request or by authority of the Office of the Medical Investigator
  • Death from homicide, accident or suicide (these fall under OMI jurisdiction and must be autopsied)
  • IV fluid retention causing excessive edema
  • Obese or overweight bodies
  • Open wounds or recent surgeries
  • Post-mortem removal of organs and/or tissues, except cornea donation to the eye bank
  • Wasting diseases resulting in dramatic loss of weight and body mass

Storage Space or Funding Limitations.

The Donor Dies Outside New Mexico.

We suggest that all registered donors make and maintain alternative arrangements in case a donation is declined. 

* NOTE: The UNM School of Medicine performs serological testing on blood samples from all donors to screen for HIV and hepatitis. The results of these tests are kept confidential. 

Eye donation is the only transplantable tissue program that is compatible with anatomical donation. Removal of organs and tissues after death renders the body unsuitable for educational purposes.

Donations of organs and tissues for transplantation are handled by organizations separate from the School of Medicine. We recognize the shortage of transplantable organs and tissues, and we encourage these donations. 

If you are interested in donating for transplantation purposes, you can contact the following organizations:

     (organ and tissue donation): 505-843-7672  (eye donation): 505-266-3937 or 888-616-3937

Yes. All monetary donations are deposited in a special account reserved for the upgrade and maintenance of the program’s equipment, preparation area and laboratory facilities.

The remains are individually cremated and, depending on the donor’s wishes, either returned to the family or scattered at Sunset Memorial Park in a space owned by UNM. 

Anatomical donation, donating your body to medical science after death, is an invaluable component of the education, training, and research that takes place at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (Feinberg).  With this act of generosity, donors facilitate the development of skills and expertise that will ultimately contribute to the advancement of science and medicine. Donations also help students develop a sensitivity and understanding that will better position them to treat the human spirit and alleviate suffering.

How to Donate

Anatomical donations to Northwestern University and Feinberg are arranged by the Anatomical Gift Association (AGA) of Illinois.  The AGA has been formally charged with the procurement, preparation, and distribution of bodies donated for medical study on behalf of all medical schools in the State of Illinois. The first priority of the AGA is to provide remains for the anatomical education of medical and dental students, and students in allied health programs. Remains also are provided for training on new surgical procedures.  

For more information on the AGA and the donation process, you may visit the AGA’s website. Contact them at 312-733-5283 or via email at [email protected]

More Information on Body Donation

Learn more about the process of body donation and the impact that such donations have on Feinberg anatomy students in their first-year Anatomy lab.

Student Reflections

At the conclusion of Anatomy lab, Feinberg medical students pay tribute to those donors who generously enabled their study of human anatomy.  The Anatomy Closing Ceremony celebrates those who donated their bodies to Feinberg through students’ prose and music.

Brain Endowment at Feinberg

Learn how you can help Feinberg combat dementia.

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