How to Donate Your Body to Forensic Science

Written by robin reichert
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How to Donate Your Body to Forensic Science
Donating your body to forensic science will contribute to medical research and education. (Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Forensic science is a special field of science that involves the collection, examination and testing of physical evidence at the scene of a crime. A person who dies suddenly or dies due to violence may warrant a forensic examination to determine the cause of death. Forensic pathologists are doctors who specialise in performing autopsies, collecting crime scene evidence from bodies and analysing that evidence. All medical students train in gross anatomy by dissecting human bodies. The bodies used by the medical students are donated to the school by the deceased prior to death or by a family member following death.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Body donation packet
  • Consent forms
  • Witnesses

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Select a recipient for your body. Choose a medical school where student doctors learn anatomy or a forensic science program such as the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State University or California State University, Chico, where students learn scientific techniques to identify bodies and help solve homicides. Select the Department of Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, where forensic studies about the rate of decomposition of bodies exposed to the elements are conducted. Make your wishes known to your family members.

  2. 2

    Request a "body donation form" or a donation package from the medical school or forensic study program of your choice. Sign the form in the presence of the required number of witnesses.

  3. 3

    Complete the form and return it to the organisation. Give a copy to your primary care physician, your attorney or a family member. Attach a copy of the completed body donation form and verification of receipt of your donation to your will.

  4. 4

    Determine what you would like done with your body after the school or forensic program has completed their study. Request cremation or burial. Make arrangements in your will or life insurance policy to cover any costs. Make alternative arrangements for burial or cremation if you body cannot be accepted upon your death.

Tips and warnings

  • Some forensic programs and medical schools cover the cost of transportation and final disposition of the remains, but others do not. Find out all the details and make prior arrangements to cover any costs associated with transportation and disposition of your body.
  • Make sure you inform all relatives and other interested persons about your decision. It could delay your donation if a family member objects to your decision.
  • Medical schools and forensic programs do not pay for human bodies.

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