How to Donate Your Body to Science

If you're just dying to get into medical school, you can always enroll later in life. Donating your body to science is the ultimate rare event-- a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to benefit medical teaching and research since the study of human anatomy does require a body.

Preregister your donation with a local medical school or university. You'll be given a registration packet that covers policies and procedures; read it very carefully.

Sign a consent form stating your desire to donate your body, and put a copy of it with your will and other personal documents. You won't be listed as a donor until a completed form has been returned and acknowledged. Cancel your decision at any time by notifying the medical school or university in writing.

Arrange for the medical school or university to be notified when you die, so that your body can be properly transported and prepared. When your corpse is delivered to the medical institution, it will be embalmed and refrigerated until it's needed for study.

Check with the school to see what its policies and procedures are regarding your body after it has been studied. Most institutions will respectfully cremate your remains at their expense and give your ashes to your loved ones. Don't expect to get paid for your donation pre- or postmortem. By law, medical schools are not permitted to purchase anyone's body.

Contact the United Network for Organ Sharing (, a national group that oversees organ transplantation procedures in this country, for more information on donating your body.

Rest in peace? Perhaps not: Your spouse, adult children, siblings, parents and guardians can arrange to have your body donated after you die by filling out an after-death donor form. In the event that your body cannot be accepted, your family needs to make alternate plans for your disposal.


The mistreatment of donated bodies is not uncommon. The Uniform Anatomical Gifts Act governs the donation of bodies for dissection, research and transplantation throughout the United States, but dead people can't file a complaint.

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