Body Donation: Everything You Need to Know About Body Donation

Body and Organ Donation

Posted on March 18, 2014 by Owen Toy

This article answers all the questions you and your family might have about the process of donating your body. Click here to learn how to donate your body and where your body goes after being donated. 

The following section outlines the general process along with several national organizations that help facilitate body donation. National body donation programs help connect you with medical schools or other research facilities directly rather than working with a particular medical school or research facility.

What to do when a loved one dies in order to donate their body?

After a death you should call the number provided by the provider you chose. After calling they will send a family service professional to come to help you prepare the dead for body donation. During this process the next of kin will have to fill out a medical and social history questionnaire as well as sign any necessary forms and verify information for a death certificate.

Will the body be cremated after donation?

Yes, the body can and normally will be cremated after donation. After the body is used by the medical or research organization, your provider will cremate the remaining tissue and send it back to the family of the deceased. The time it takes to receive the cremated remains back vaires depending on the provider you chose, however it is not unusual for the cremated remains to be returned 3-6 weeks after being donated.

How much does body donation cost?

There may be a  a small fee for transportation or cremation of a body after donation, but in most cases it does not cost any money for the family of the deceased. The provider will usually  pay for everything, but be sure to inquire about any costs involved before committing to a particular body donation organization to avoid surprises.

Can I pre-register to donate my body?

You can pre-register to have your body donated after turning 18. It is not required, but it makes donating your body easier when the time comes. After pre-registering, it is encouraged to tell your family so they are not confused about your decision or what to do when the time comes.

Can I have an open casket funeral if I donate my body?

It is not possible to donate your body and have an open casket funeral. You can always have a memorial service for the deceased with or without the cremated remains present. If you choose to wait, you can have the cremated remains present at the memorial service or do something creative with the cremated remains.

What do you do if you are out of state when you die and you want to donate your body?

In most cases the provider you chose will help transport your body back home to be donated. This will sometimes cost a fee depending on where the body is being transported to and from. In some situations your body may be donated to somewhere closer than your home.

Can I decide where my body goes after donating it?

Aside from selecting the organization you want to donate to, you cannot decide where your body will go or how it will be used after death, but it may be taken into account if specific requests are made. The body donation organization will do their best to donate your body to the place you request but cannot make any promises.

Where can I donate my body?

There are local and national body donation programs across the USA. Some programs are run stricktly on a non-profit bases, while others are not.

Some states have an anotomical board that coordinated body donation and distribution to organizations across the state. Other states rely on the individual hospital, medical programs, or other body donation programs to coordinate for themselves. You can find the body donation options near you via a Search on Funeral360 or look into one of the national programs we've found below. 

National Body Donation Organizations

Organization Fee To Return Cremated Remains Time Cremated Remains Are Returned After Donation Contact  Eligibility
Science Care $0 3-5 weeks 800-417-3747 The donor cannot have a contagious disease, be extremely obese, or have had extensive orthopedic surgeries. Pre-registration available in CA, FL, PA, AZ, CO and TX.
Med Cure $0 4-6 weeks 1-866-560-2525 You are not eligible if you are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B or C, have a history of illegal drug use, were incarcerated or institutionalized, or you were severely over or under weight at the time of death.
Life Legacy $0 4-6 weeks 570-575-5200 The donor must be at least 18 years old.  They cannot have HIV, Hepatitis B or C, or active tuberculosis.  The donor cannot be severely over or under weight at the time of death.
Anatomy Gifts $35.00 4-6 weeks 800-300-5433 The donor cannot have any of the following diseases: Cancer, Hepatitis B or C, or tuberculosis.  Donor also can not have had extensive hip, knee, or spine surgeries.  Also at the time of death they cannot be severely over or under weight.