What you Need to Know if You are Thinking about Donating Your Body to Science

Lisa M. Bitter, Esq.

Is there an age restriction?

Yes.  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. 

Will there be any expenses to my family or estate for donating my body to science? 

Yes. The 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 facility which you are donating to-normally a medical school affiliated with an university. 

Is donation possible after an autopsy? 


Can a body be donated if it has a serious disease at the time of death or if any of its 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 the body be used? 

Donated bodies are used 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 another person 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 a Body Donation 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 with a Body Donation Program 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 type of funeral service is permitted? 

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

Can the family receive a report about what their loved one 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 the body has been received, 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.  Body Donation Programs, such at The University of Cincinnati College of Medicine 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. 

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

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. 

Lisa M. Bitter, Esq., 300 Pike Street, Suite 500, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 (513) 721-5672.  www.byhlaw.com