Today is Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017

Body Donation Program

Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of our most frequently asked questions. If you have a question that is not answered here, please contact us at 513-558-5612 or laura.garrison@uc.edu.

How do I donate my body to the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine?

Simply contact the Body Donation Program at 513-558-5612. Forms will be sent which should be completed and distributed as indicated. Upon return of one copy to the Body Donation Program, a letter of acknowledgement and a wallet-sized donor information card will be sent to the donor.

Is there an age restriction?
Donors must be at least 18 years of age.


Must I notify an attorney to donate my body to medical science?

No. This type of gift does not have to be written in your will, although it is permissible to do so.


Who may serve as a witness to my donation?

Anyone 18 years of age or older who is not a relative or employed by the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.


Will there be any expenses to my family or estate for donating my body to the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine?

Yes. The only expense which must be paid by the next-of-kin or the estate of the deceased is for transportation, by either a funeral home or ambulance service, to the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. We will assume all costs for embalming, storage, cremation and final disposition of the remains of either burial at Spring Grove Cemetery or return of cremains to the family.

Is donation possible after an autopsy?

Yes. Autopsies are an important part of medicine and do not prevent the donation of the pre-registered body to the College of Medicine.

Can my body be donated if I have a serious disease at the time of my death or if any of my organs have been removed?

Yes. Your registration in our program represents a contract and we will uphold our part of the agreement to accept your body. It is only under the most unusual circumstances that a donor’s body would be rejected. On the other hand, should you elect to withdraw your donation, you may do so.

How will my body be used?

The University of Cincinnati College of Medicine makes donated bodies available for medical education, the development of medical science, and research for the development of medical products and techniques. This includes making bodies available to outside researchers and other institutions.

Can I donate someone else’s body, e.g. my wife or husband?

This cannot be done while the donor is living. However, after the individual expires, the nearest living next-of-kin can donate the body, however, acceptance into the program is not guaranteed.

Is there a reason my body would not be accepted?

Donation of a loved one after death who has not signed a bequeathal form will not be accepted if any of the conditions listed below exist:

  • an autopsy has been performed.
  • recent surgery of the chest or abdomen that is not healed.
  • death was caused by certain infectious diseases (in particular, AIDS, infectious hepatitis, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or serious staph infection).
  • any state IV decubitus (bed sores).
  • presence of gangrene.
  • is in a state of decomposition
  • very obese.


What does the family do if the donor dies during non-business hours of the College of Medicine?

If a donor passes in a hospital with a morgue, the body may be stored there until the next working day. In all other cases, the body is to be transported by funeral director or by an ambulance service to the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science.

The medical facility will still need to notify the University of Cincinnati by calling 513-558-5612 and leaving a voicemail message regarding the donor’s death, date and time, as well as who will be transporting the body. The medical facility or transportation services must also contact the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science prior to their arrival by calling 513-761-3773.

What type of funeral service is permitted?

A memorial service may be held for the deceased with the body not present.

Can I receive a report about what my body was used for and what was found?

The Body Donation Program does not receive or provide reports regarding studies on anatomical donations.


What happens to my body after the medical studies are complete?

Upon completion of medical studies, which is usually one to four years after we have received the body, the bodies are individually cremated and one of the two options is followed: First, the ashes can be returned to the family or to a location selected by the family for final interment.

The Body Donation Program will pay for shipping the ashes, but the cost for the interment is the responsibility of the survivors. Second, the remains of donors not returned to the survivors will be interred at Spring Grove Cemetery. The University of Cincinnati College of Medicine has a gravesite which is marked with an appropriate monument.

Will my name be recorded at the gravesite?

No. In order to respect the privacy and anonymity requested by some individuals, the names of donors do not appear at the gravesite. However, to honor the individuals who have made this important contribution to medical science, the name of each donor is recorded in a book located in the Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions, located in the College of Medicine.

Spring Grove Cemetery also maintains a record of donors buried at this gravesite.

If I move from Cincinnati, what happens to my donation?

If death occurs outside the Tri-state area, there are two options: First, the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine will assist the donor’s family in making arrangements to have the remains donated to the closest medical school. 

As previously stated, all transportation costs are paid by the family or the estate of the deceased. Second, if the next-of-kin insists that the body be returned to the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, the survivors must assume the responsibility of embalming and transportation costs. 

A funeral director in the area where the donor expired should be contacted. The funeral director should then immediately contact the Body Donation Program at 513-558-5612 for specific embalming instructions.


Student studying.

How do I donate my body?

Simply contact the Body Donation Program at 513-558-5612. Forms will be sent which should be completed and distributed as indicated. Upon return of one copy to the Body Donation Program, a letter of acknowledgement and a wallet-sized donor information card will be sent to the donor.