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Anatomical Gift

Academic Success

Frequently Asked Questions

How will my body benefit the education of health professionals?

Understanding of human structure is an essential step in the education of health professionals, and your donation allows students hands‐on experience with the form of the human body. The majority of donations are utilized directly in the education of medical students at the School of Medicine. Some donations may also be utilized in research or educational activities conducted by medical professionals associated with the Medical School. Finally, through our participation in the Associated Medical Schools of New York, bodies may occasionally be provided to other member schools to aid in the education of their health professional students. Upon completion of anatomical studies at these institutions, donations will be returned to our School of Medicine.

Who can make a donation?

Competent persons at least 18 years of age may arrange to donate their bodies for the purpose of medical education and research. Donations may also be made after death by the next of kin or other legally designated party. There is no upper age limit on donation.

Can I donate my body and also donate my organs for transplantation purposes?

We require the body to be intact for use in our program. Therefore, organ donation or autopsy would preclude acceptance of a whole body donation. However, we do encourage consideration of a corneal donation, as this will not interfere with use of the body for educational purposes. For information about eye donation, please contact the Lions Eye Bank for Long Island.

For what reasons would my body not be accepted for donation?

There are several reasons why a body may not be suitable for donation. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Prior autopsy or embalming
  • Certain infectious diseases (including, but not limited to AIDS, hepatitis, tuberculosis, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease)
  • Extensive trauma at the time of death
  • Advanced decomposition
  • Extreme obesity

Although most anatomical donations are accepted, donors and their families should plan alternative arrangements in the event that the donation must be declined.

Is there any cost to me or my family for participation in the donation program?

There are no costs to the donor or the donor's family assuming that death occurs within the donation area (Nassau County , Suffolk County, and the five boroughs of New York City). The School of Medicine will be financially responsible for the removal of the body, transportation of the body to the School of Medicine facility, permits for transportation and cremation, cremation of remains, and scattering or return to family of remains. We are not financially responsible for funerals, obituaries, or other services not specifically mentioned here.

Will there be any payment received for my donation?

No. The National Organ Transplantation Act and laws of New York State specifically prohibit giving of "anything of value" to donors or next of kin in exchange for bequeathal of organs or bodies.

Can I make a financial contribution to the Anatomical Gift Program?

We would be honored to have you contribute financially to our gift program. For more information, please contact the program staff.

Should I include information about my donation in my will or notify my family prior to my death?

It is not required that instructions regarding your donation be included in your will or as a codicil to your will, although you may do so if you wish. It is advisable that you discuss your intent to donate your body with family members, authorized representative, your personal physician or an attorney prior to your death.

What if I change my mind?

Please be assured that you are free to change your mind and revoke your statement of intent at any time. You should also be aware that this right applies to the next of kin after the donor's death.

What is a "Registry of Intent"?

Your completion of the "Registry of Intent" form does not represent a legal contract. The donation of one's body after death is taken as an expression of one's personal wishes and does not represent a commitment to donate. Please be aware that the right to revoke your intent also applies to the next of kin after the donor is deceased. After death of the donor, the donor's next of kin will complete a "Consent to Donate" form.

What steps should be taken upon my death?

When death occurs, the party responsible for making the arrangements to donate the body (next of kin or authorized representative) should contact the Whole Body Anatomical Gift Program as soon as possible at (516) 463-7505. This is a 24-hour number. If the body is deemed acceptable for donation, arrangements will be made for transfer by a funeral director associated with the Medical School.

Is a viewing or wake permitted before donation?

In order for donations to be utilized by our program, it is essential that the body be received by our facility within 24 hours of death. Because of this, the body will not be available for a viewing or wake. Of course, a memorial service without the presence of the body is still possible.

Can my body still be donated if I should die outside of the immediate area?

We will defray the costs of body transportation to the School of Medicine from the counties of Nassau, Suffolk, and the five boroughs of New York City. If death occurs outside of our donation area and donation is still desired: 1) your family may have the un-embalmed body transported to the Medical School at their own expense or the expense of your estate, or 2) the body may be donated to a medical school within the region in which death occurred. A list of body donation programs in the United States is available here.

What happens to my remains?

Anatomical studies generally take between one and three years, although some donations may be retained for longer periods of time. In some cases, donations may provide such a unique educational opportunity that a portion of the donation may be retained for archival purposes. We reserve the right to retain selected portions of a donation for this purpose. The anatomic gift will continue to educate medical students.

Upon completion of anatomical studies, remains will be cremated at the expense of the School of Medicine at a licensed in-state crematory. In accordance with the donor's request, cremated remains (cremains) are either returned to the designated recipient or they will be scattered at sea. If there is no request for the return of cremains or if the designated recipient is unable to be contacted, cremains will be scattered at sea no less than six months from the time of cremation.

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