Whole Body Donation in the Bay Area
Donating your body to a medical school helps provide essential training for medical students.
Donating your body to a research institution can help surgeons to develop and improve surgical techniques and can assist in the development of life-saving medicines and surgical procedures.
Whole Body Donation is the least expensive option for the disposition of human remains.
Understand how your donated body will be used by the accepting entity. Medical schools may be reasonably relied upon to use the body for education and medical research. If you donate your body to another type of entity, be sure to read the details about how it may be used.
Whole body donation must generally be pre-arranged by the donor before death. Your family may be able to choose this for you after you die. See the links below to obtain further information and forms from the various entities that accept whole body donations in the Bay Area.
There is no maximum age for a body to be accepted, but a variety of conditions may make the body unacceptable. So be sure to have a Plan B. Some of the reasons a body may not be accepted:
- Accident or suicide has caused too much damage to the body
- Infectious diseases, such as hepatitis, HIV, tuberculosis
- Extreme obesity or edema, which makes body-handing difficult, or bedsores
- Donating tissues or organs may disqualify the body for donation (check with the institution)
- The institution already has plenty of bodies.
What is required to donate my body?
Stanford University School of Medicine
Willed Body Program, Division of Clinical Anatomy
Stanford, CA 94305
University of California, San Francisco
Department of Anatomy, AC-14
San Francisco, CA 94143-0902
With Stanford Medical School Anatomy Department, there is no cost to the deceased's family except the cost of death certificates, if the person died within 150 miles. If death occurs beyond 150 miles, the family or estate pays the cost of transportation. Stanford contracts with a local funeral home to transport the bodies, prepare the death certificates, and cremate the remains after students have learned what they can from it. An annual service is held to offer respect and thanks for all the donated bodies.
UC San Francisco will transport bodies at no charge if death occurs in Northern California.
UC Davis will pick up the body within a 50 mile radius, but beyond that distance, the next-of-kin will need to pay a mortuary to transport the body. UC Davis will bear the cost of cremation when they are done with the body
At present, it is illegal to pay families for bodies, and penalties are severe for any infractions.
What happens when they are through with my body?
After the body is used for medical instruction or research at Stanford, it is cremated and the ashes are available for return to the family should they choose. Alternatively, ashes may be interred at Irvington Memorial Cemetery in Fremont. Stanford Medical students take time each year to honor the donors that have made an invaluable contribution to their medical education.
At UCSF, after studies are completed, generally around one to three years, the remains are cremated and scattered at sea. The ashes are not returned for private disposition, and no notification of final disposition will be sent to the family.
If you live in other areas of the country, contact your closest medical school.
Or you may contact the National Anatomical Service, which has been in business since 1975 of procuring and transporting cadavers for various medical schools. NAS is aware of the schools with the greatest need. Call them anywhere in the U.S. at 1-800-727-0700. Headquarters are in New York and they cover the phone 24 hours a day. Arrangements for refrigeration will be made by the service with a local mortuary until transportation is provided. In some cases the medical school pays storage and transportation costs. In other cases, the family may be asked to pay from $150 to $600, depending on the distance to be shipped.
For those who live in a state with no medical school (Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming), or in states where all medical schools require prior enrollment (Arizona, Nebraska, Nevada, South Carolina, and Wisconsin), this service will be of benefit to next-of-kin wishing to make a body donation. You might advise relatives of this option in case the medical school of your choice is in no need at the time of your death.
International shipping of scientific cadavers is not allowed. (But bodies can be shipped privately if placed in a hermetically sealed container.) If you should die while abroad, your family might arrange for a medical school overseas to accept your body, as their need for bodies there might even be greater than in the U.S. For example, in Argentina 200 medical students must share a cadaver. Tell your family if you wish them to consider this option.
The national Funeral Consumers Alliance office has "Uniform Donor Cards" which you can fill out stating your wishes. Phone them for a copy at 1-800-765-0107
CAUTION: Medical schools may be reasonably relied upon to use the donated body for research and educational purposes. If you donate your body to another type of entity, be sure to read all the information about how the body may be used
Organ and Body Part Donation
University of California, Davis
Donated Body Program Curator