The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) governs the donation of cadavers for science. A whole body donation is a donation of a body without the removal of organs for the purpose of research and instruction after death. Medical schools and private organizations accept whole body donations. Whole body donations assist in the instruction of medical students, in the study of diseases, and in the advancement of science.
Although arranging to donate your body in advance is unnecessary, it is best to do so. You can donate your body by pre-registering the donation with an appropriate medical organization. It will be necessary to sign a form consenting to the donation. At any time, the donor can revoke the intended donation in writing. The donor should arrange for the organization to be contacted upon their death.
The law prohibits medical organizations from paying for whole body donations, but most medical institutions will pay for the costs incurred from the donation. After a whole body donor dies, most medical organizations will pay for the transportation of the body and may file the death certificate. The medical institution will often pay for the disposal of the body through cremation and will return the cremated remains to family members upon their request.
If you intend to donate your body to science, it is important to inform family members. It is best to put the decision in writing in a living will or in a letter to the executor of your estate. This will ensure that family members carry out your wishes. If the intent to donate your body is not made in writing, the law allows the donor's legal next-of-kin to consent to the donation.
For more information about whole body donations, contact the National Anatomical Service.