Frequently Asked Questions
1. How will the University of Minnesota use my body?
The University of Minnesota Medical School Anatomy Bequest Program has been developed to facilitate anatomical donations to support medical research and education for health professionals. With the growing emphasis on education in the health sciences, the need for whole body donations for anatomical study has never been more important. Anatomical donations are essential to help identify causes of disease and health conditions and are instrumental in identifying new treatments and cures. The Anatomy Bequest Program supports statewide education of undergraduate and graduate level students and citizens.
2. What if I die OUTSIDE of Minnesota?
If a death occurs outside of Minnesota, donation to the Anatomy Bequest Program may be possible depending of the anatomical gift laws in the state of death.
When a death occurs outside of Minnesota, the donor’s estate, next of kin or authorizing person is responsible for the transportation and paperwork costs associated with bringing the donor’s body from the place of death to the University of Minnesota. These arrangements must be made with a funeral home. If a donor’s body has already been transported into Minnesota, the Anatomy Bequest Program will cover the expense of transporting the donor’s body from that location to the University of Minnesota.
3. Is there a need for whole body anatomical donations?
Yes. There is an ever growing need for whole body donations for use in anatomy classes and for medical research. Whole body donors are an essential component in the preparation of health professionals and a crucial tool in researching medical interventions and devices.
4. Can I be both an organ and a whole body donor?
Yes. We encourage you to sign up for any donor program that interests you. At the time of death we work with other donor organizations and the next of kin/authorizing person to facilitate any and all donations possible. For a list of other donor organizations, click here: Donor Organizations
5. Is there an age limit preventing me from body donation?
Individuals must be at least 18 years old to donate. There is no upper age limit. (See Requirements for Donation)
6. If I have had surgery in the past can I still donate my body to the University of Minnesota?
Yes. Major or minor surgery is not a reason for declining a donation.
7. Can the University of Minnesota decline my body even if I have completed donation forms?
Yes. The University of Minnesota, Anatomy Bequest Program must reserve the right to decline individuals for a number of reasons. (See Donor Suitability)
8. What happens if the University of Minnesota declines my donation?
If the University of Minnesota declines the donation of an individual, it is the donor’s estate, next of kin or authorizing person's responsibility to make final arrangements. (See Donor Suitability)
9. If I am unable or have not signed donation forms, can my family still donate my body to the University of Minnesota Anatomy Bequest Program?
Yes. It is possible for a donor’s next of kin or authorizing person to make a whole body donation after the death has occurred. It is absolutely necessary that the family members of the donor be in complete agreement with the donation. Formal next of kin/authorizing person consenting procedures must be completed prior to the receipt of the donor's remains at the University. For a next of kin/authorizing person donation form, click here: Next-of-Kin/Authorizing Person Donation form (PDF)
10. Is there any cost to me or my family if I donate my body to the University of Minnesota?
The Anatomy Bequest Program will arrange for and cover the transportation expenses of a donor’s body from the place of death to the University of Minnesota if a donor’s death occurs WITHIN the State of Minnesota.
The Anatomy Bequest Program does not cover the following costs:
- Costs for services provided by a funeral home
- Costs to have the entire body returned for burial in a cemetery
- Costs not directly related to the Anatomy Bequest Program
11. Is it necessary to employ a funeral home if I donate my body to the University of Minnesota?
No. Many of the Anatomy Bequest Program professional staff members are licensed morticians and are trained to take care of the logistics involved in the donor's death. These responsibilities include coordinating transportation from the place of death to the University of Minnesota and filing the death certificate with the Minnesota Department of Health. If the family arranges for services to be provided by a local funeral home, the University of Minnesota would not assume the cost of these services.
12. Can my family have a visitation and a funeral service with my body present at a funeral home?
Yes. The next of kin or authorizing person may request viewing, visitation, and/or funeral services with the body of the deceased present at a funeral home.
However, the Anatomy Bequest Program must be made aware of this request in order to advise funeral home employees of special handling and embalming procedures of the body.
The Anatomy Bequest Program will not assume the cost of funeral arrangements made by family members. (See For Donor Families)
13. Can my family view my body after death at the Anatomy Bequest Program?
Regrettably, due to space limitations the Anatomy Bequest Program is unable to offer this service to families. We understand the importance of being about to visit with the donor one last time and encourage families who have not had this opportunity to contact a funeral home to arrange a private viewing before the donor comes to the University, though the family needs to be aware they may be an expense for this and should consult with the funeral home of their choice for more details . (See For Donor Families)
14. What happens to my body after the studies are complete?
When studies are complete, there are three choices for disposition of the remains. They are as follows:
- The University of Minnesota can cremate the remains and return the cremated remains to the donor's next of kin/authorizing person. Expenses for cremation and return of the cremated remains are the responsibility of the University of Minnesota.
- The University of Minnesota can cremate the remains and inter the cremated remains in a shared grave space at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis. This space is shared by other University of Minnesota whole body donors. Expenses for cremation and interment are the responsibility of the University of Minnesota. Information pertaining to the interment date is not released.
- The University of Minnesota can release the entire body to a funeral home for interment in a cemetery of your choice. All expenses associated with the funeral home and the interment are the responsibility of the donor's next of kin/authorizing person or estate.
15. Why do the studies last as long as 18 months?
The directors of the Anatomy Bequest Program understand that they are asking grieving family members for a long period of commitment. We hope that family members understand they have the opportunity to have a funeral, with their loved one’s remains present, prior to the donation process. We do not want to delay or postpone the grieving process.
Before a donor’s remains can be used to educate health care practitioners, the donor’s remains need to be anatomically prepared. The anatomical preparation process currently recommended requires arterial preservation. After arterial preservation, the donor’s remains are isolated for a period of time to better eliminate the possibility of transmitting harmful microorganisms to students, staff or researchers.
After isolation, the donor’s remains are used for study in semester or yearlong courses. The course assigned depends on the time of the year.
16. Why are there no reports on the findings pertaining to the studies?
The Anatomy Bequest Program’s core mission is to support anatomical education for the University of Minnesota Medical School. Anatomical education is the foundation of a student’s medical knowledge and is the first course they take during their first year of Medical School. Therefore, the students are not knowledgeable enough at this time to diagnosis or recognize diseases and conditions. Rather, they use this knowledge as they go forward in other curriculum courses such as pathology.
17. Can donations be made to support specific disease research, such as breast cancer research?
Whole body donations to the Anatomy Bequest Program cannot be made to support specific disease research. However, if a donor or donor’s family has made contact with a medical researcher studying specific diseases prior to the donor's death, we can help support the medical researcher's request for specific tissue or information and still use the donor’s remains for medical education at the University of Minnesota Medical School.
It is important to remember that all donors and their medical conditions help to educate medical students and health professionals. They apply the knowledge acquired through their studies for the rest of their careers.
18. Does the Anatomy Bequest Program hold a memorial service for the donors?
Yes. Each year the University of Minnesota Medical School students coordinate a memorial service to publicly recognize the donors who have generously donated themselves to ensure the education of future generations of health professionals. Faculty, staff and students attend and participate in this service to publicly express their appreciation to the donors and their families. Family members of the previous years donors are automatically invited, additionally the service is open to the public and anyone is welcome to attend.
For further information about the Anatomy Memorial Service, please click here: Anatomy Memorial Service
19. How does the Anatomy Bequest Program protect the dignity of the donors.
We've instituted a number of safeguards to make sure bodies are handled with appropriate respect. The Anatomy Bequest Program Proposal Review Committee evaluates requests for all uses of human bodies, and staff members regularly participate in and monitor all studies. An additional committee consisting of a medical doctor, former assistant dean, departmental head, bioethicist, anatomy professor and a donor family member provide counsel and review the Proposal Review Committee policies. State law prohibits selling bodies or body parts, and the University has a number of oversight controls in place to make sure that we comply with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations.
If you have any other questions please contact the University of Minnesota, Anatomy Bequest Program at 612-625-1111 or firstname.lastname@example.org or
Anatomy Bequest Program
University of Minnesota
3-005 Nils Hasselmo Hall
312 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455-0215