Contact Information

Anatomical Gift Program


Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
4301 Jones Bridge Road
Bethesda, Maryland 20814
Room G074
Phone: (301) 295-3301
FAX (301) 295-9194 Email: help@usuhs.edu

Anatomical Gift Program

Information/Questions:
(301) 295-3301
Weekdays 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Emergencies or Imminent Donation: (301) 295-3333 24hrs/day
Anatomical Teaching Laboratory:
Ron Rivenburgh
(301) 295-3334

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

It is impossible to anticipate and answer here all questions which may arise concerning anatomical donations; however, it seems worthwhile to discuss some common inquiries about the policies and practices of the Anatomical Gift Program.

Q1. Does arranging to donate my body automatically take care of donations to tissue or organ banks?

Q2. Do diseases destroy the usefulness of a body?

Q3. May I, as a prospective donor, change my mind after signing papers making the gift?

Q4. What circumstances might cause refusal of a gift?

Q5. What expenses to my family or state are connected with donating my body?

Q6. If I intend to make an anatomical donation but do not complete arrangements prior to death, is there any way the gift can be completed?

Q7. What payments are made in connection with donated bodies?

Q8. May I or my estate assume the expense of a conventional funeral or memorial service and also allow my body to be used for anatomical purposes?

Q9. What reassurance can I give my family concerning the final disposition of my body?

Q10. What if my doctor requests an autopsy?

Q11. What is the procedure regarding the death certificate?

Q12. Will there be any publicity regarding my donation?

Q13. How will my body be used?

Q14. Can my doctor obtain a report of disease conditions found in my body?

Q15. Is it possible for relatives and friends to make contributions to the University in my memory?


Q1. Does arranging to donate my body automatically take care of donations to tissue or organ banks?

No. For thorough anatomical study, the entire body must be intact. Since tissues and organs for transplantation must be removed immediately after death, the body can no longer be used by the Medical School for teaching and study. Therefore, you must choose from the Anatomical Gift Program (whole body donation), a tissue transplant program or any organ transplant program. Those who wish to donate tissues or organs should make arrangements directly with tissue or organ banks. The family physician will usually assist in making these arrangements, and the University will offer advise when it can.

Q2. Do diseases destroy the usefulness of a body?

Generally, diseases do not reduce the value of a body for teaching and research. In some cases, they may increase the usefulness.

Q3. May I, as a prospective donor, change my mind after signing papers making the gift?

Yes. You may write to the University, state that the gift has been revoked, and request return of any signed documents.

Q4. What circumstances might cause refusal of a gift?

Only unusual conditions which destroy parts of a body are likely to result in refusal. An explosion or a particularly destructive automobile accident might provide such conditions that would make a body less valuable to teaching programs. The University's decision to accept donation is made at the time of death in accordance with the above provisions.

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Q5. What expenses to my family or state are connected with donating my body?

Unless special circumstances cause a departure from normal university procedures, or the body must be transported more than 150 miles there are no expenses. If death occurs out side a 150- mile radius the cost of transportation must be borne by the survivors or estate.

Q6. If I intend to make an anatomical donation but do not complete arrangements prior to death, is there any way the gift can be completed?

Yes. If your next of kin knows of this wish and desires to carry it out, they may contact the University concerning the procedure. By executing simple forms, they can release the body and consent to its use in teaching and research.

Q7. What payments are made in connection with donated bodies?

No payment is made for any body. Medical schools are not legally permitted to purchase any person's body, either from the person or from the survivors.

Q8. May I or my estate assume the expense of a conventional funeral or memorial service and also allow my body to be used for anatomical purposes?

Yes. The University would be pleased to receive the body after a conventional funeral and prior to disposition. If there is to be such a service, your funeral director should be asked to confer with the University so that he can cooperate in matters of embalming and removal. However, no costs can be assumed by the University, and all expenses of funeral or memorial services must be paid by the family or the estate of the donor.

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Q9. What reassurance can I give my family concerning the final disposition of my body?

If you or your family desires, the University will cooperate in special arrangements made for burial or cremation, but expenses connected with such arrangements (including transportation) cannot be paid by the University.

Q10. What if my doctor requests an autopsy?

Granting permission to perform an autopsy may be an important contribution to medical science; however, the university may not accept a body upon which an autopsy has been performed. The choice between permitting the autopsy and donating the body to the School of Medicine must be made by the survivors.

Q11. What is the procedure regarding the death certificate?

A copy of the death certificate an the necessary medical information filled in by the attending physician must accompany any body accepted by the University.

Q12. Will there be any publicity regarding my donation?

No. A statement of the fact of donation may be made public by the survivor (as in an obituary) if they wish to do so. No statement will be released by the University.

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Q13. How will my body be used?

The majority of the bodies which come to the School of Medicine will be used for teaching anatomy. Other bodies are used by physicians to review anatomy in connection with special training for surgery. A few bodies are used by physicians in research aimed at the solution of problems or the development of new medical or surgical procedures.

Q14. Can my doctor obtain a report of disease conditions found in my body?

Generally, no. However, upon specific request, we will attempt to cooperate with your physician and report our observations.

Q15. Is it possible for relatives and friends to make contributions to the University in my memory?

Yes, your friends and relatives should contact the University to discuss how gifts may be made.

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Anatomical Gift Program Information and Questions:
Weekdays 7:30am to 4:00pm
(301) 295-3301
Emergencies or Imminent Donation:
(301) 295-3333 24hrs/day