Anatomical Bequest Program

Donate Your Body To Medical Science through The University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology That Others May Live...

Anatomical Bequest Program Staff

Randall J. Nelson, Ph.D.
Professor of Anatomy
and Neurobiology

Donna M. Rogers

Kevin Johnson

The Anatomical Bequest Program at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center is pleased to be able to accept the unselfish and generous donations of earthly remains given by donors to benefit the future healthcare providers of the State of Tennessee. The thoughtfulness behind these donations has been greatly appreciated by both the students who have learned a great deal with the aid of those donations and the instructors who have taught these young people so that they may aid others. When one stops to think about the impact of such donations, one can't help but realize that these single acts of generosity touch the lives of so many over the course of the career of the doctors, dentists, therapists, and other practitioners whose basis for medical understanding begins with an appreciation and reverence for the human body. Daily, these individuals use what they have learned to better the quality of life of people that donors may have never met in their lifetime. However, it is through the donors' perpetual gifts that Tennessee's healthcare providers have learned the skills that help them to help others and thus improve society as a whole.

Background Information

Examination of the dead to gain knowledge of the living has been practiced since ancient times.

Today, knowledge of the human body obtained by study of the dead is absolutely indispensable to the education of tomorrow's physicians, dentists and other health care professionals and to biomedical research.

For its current programs, The University of Tennessee Health Science Center needs more than 100 bodies each year from the over 5,000 residents of Tennessee and nearby states who die annually. In Tennessee, as in other states, the bodies of those that are unclaimed by relatives are allocated by law to medical institutions. But most people can afford conventional funeral procedures, and various social welfare programs aid most of the few who need help. Thus, there are now almost no unclaimed bodies, although the increasing need for health care workers requires more bodies for biomedical education and research than ever before.

The Solution

The solution lies in the increasing number of people who choose to give their bodies, after death, to medical science.

Recognizing the need for such gifts, all states have enacted uniform legislation providing for or clarifying the rights of those who wish to donate all or parts of their bodies after death to the advancement of medical education. Tennessee adopted one of the first such laws in 1969. The University of Tennessee Health Science Center operates within the framework of this law and other legislation, and makes every effort to answer a family's questions or concerns when accepting the gift of a body.

The Decision

The decision to donate one's body for medical teaching and research should be made only after a great deal of thought. Those considering such a donation should discuss it with their families and, if they choose, with a family physician, attorney or clergyman. Failure to make the decision known to others may defeat all advance arrangements made by donors.

The Procedure

The decision to donate one's body can be carried out by properly executing and returning to The University simple forms that are available to download here. The bequest becomes effective when The University acknowledges the donation and sends an identification card.

Even when a bequest is fully described in a last will and testament, signed bequest forms must be returned to The University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Often a will does not receive consideration until funeral and burial procedures have been completed. The University does not accept bequests made on forms other than the one we provide.

Contact Us

Anatomical Bequest Program
Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology
College of Medicine

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
855 Monroe Avenue #515
Memphis, Tennessee 38163

Randall J. Nelson, PhD

Phone - Business Hours:
(901) 448-5978

Phone - After Hours:
(901) 448-2640