How to donate my body for research after I die

Updated July 20, 2017

The idea of having somebody fiddling with your body after you have died can be disturbing for some, but the donation of whole bodies is something that scientists and medical researchers desperately need. Deceased bodies are used in research and in the training of medical personnel, and because of that they are highly valued. Many people have the desire to leave their body for such purposes after their death, but what is involved in the procedure of donating a body is relatively unknown to most people.

In order to donate your body to science, you must first be 18 years of age. The donor must also be of sound mind and able to sign the documents himself. This is to prevent anyone from being pressured into doing this against his will.

At organisations such as BioGift, the process begins by filling out registration and information forms. These usually can be found on an organisation's website or by phoning in for a request. It is advised to discuss this decision with a next of kin, such as your spouse, to make sure the donor's wishes are understood and will be carried out properly.

The next step occurs at the time of your death. At this point, it is the responsibility of the donor's next of kin to contact the organisation to which the body is being donated in order to begin the process. A representative from the organisation then comes to assure that the body qualifies for the program.

When the body is taken, it is checked for any infectious disease that may be transmitted to researchers. The body is then used for experiments, research or teaching procedures. Once all of this has been completed, the body is cremated and the remains are returned to the family of the deceased.

If there are no prior arrangements and it is not against the rules of a medical school, the next of kin, having legal possession of the body at the time of death, can make the decision to donate the body to the school after signing a release form, according to


While some organisations will accept your body even if your spouse or family objects, there are many who do not want to go against the wishes of the deceased's family. This gives an added importance to discussing your wishes with your family before death in order to make sure that they are understood and carried out.

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About the Author

Angela Eastman was born in August of 1986. She graduated from Colby-Sawyer College in 2008, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in writing for publication. She writes articles online for Suite 101. Currently, she resides in southern New Hampshire.