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Organ, Tissue and Body Donation

Body Donation

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It is possible to donate an entire body to a medical school for research and/or instruction. Generally, you may not donate any of your organs if you plan to donate your body to a school.

Medical and dental schools need cadavers to teach anatomy and other courses and to use in research.

If the medical school accepts the donation at the time of your death, the school will generally provide the cost of transporting your body to the school. The school will also pay for the final disposition of the remains, usually by cremation. Your remains can often be returned to a family member if that is your desire.

If you would like to donate your body to a medical school:

  • It is generally a good idea to make arrangements ahead of time.
  • Contact the nearest university medical school to make transport of the body easier.
  • If you're interested, you can ask how the body will be used.
  • Inform your spouse and other family members of your wishes and get their consent. Schools often refuse a body if relatives object.

Ask the following questions to ensure that you and your family understand what will happen:

  • Who will study my body?
  • What will be done with my body? Can I specify how the body can be used? Can I direct that it only be used by a particular researcher?
  • Who will pay for transport to the institution?
  • What safeguards do you have in place against misuse?
  • Will my body be shared with other institutions or schools?
  • Will my body be treated with respect? If so, how?
  • What happens to the body when research is complete?
  • What would cause the institution to refuse my gift?

To find medical schools or research facilities with anatomical research programs, see: offsite link

For additional information about whole body donation, contact the National Anatomical Service at 800.727.0700.

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