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Anatomical Bequest Program FAQs

How can I donate my body to UTHSC?

To enroll in the ABP, please complete the Anatomic Gift by Living Donor and Vital Statistics Information forms. These forms must be signed, witnessed by two adults, and returned within thirty (30) days of the date signed to the address on the back of the pamphlet. When the forms are received, we will send a letter confirming enrollment, a copy of the enrollment forms, and two donor identification cards.

Expressing your wishes in your will is not sufficient for The University to accept the body. The University does not accept anatomical donations made on any forms other than those we provide.

What if I change my mind after signing papers making the bequest?
Please contact the ABP if you wish to revoke the bequest. The University will cancel the bequest upon confirmation of this request in accordance with TCA 68-30-110.
What circumstances might cause refusal of a donation?

Reasons a donation cannot be accepted include, but are not limited to:

  • Infectious diseases, e.g., MRSA, Hepatitis, AIDS, TB, COVID-19
  • Sepsis
  • Extreme obesity or severe wasting
  • Death caused by suicide, trauma or acts of violence
  • Advanced decomposition
  • Autopsied body
  • Bodies used for tissue or organ donation, except for corneas
  • Notification of death not received immediately

The University reserves the right to decline a donation at time of death, for any reason deemed necessary; therefore, alternative arrangements should be made in the event the donation is declined.

What if a donor dies outside Tennessee?
The survivors or estate must pay the costs for the removal of the body from the state of death, preparation, and transfer of the body to The University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
What expenses to family or estate are incurred with donating one's body?
None, unless death occurs outside of Tennessee.
When should the University be notified of my death?

Immediately after the pronouncement of my death by healthcare providers, law enforcement or medical examiner, call The University at 901.448.5978 (during business hours) or 901.448.2640 (after hours, on weekends, or holidays).

To verify that the deceased is enrolled in the ABP, the informant should be prepared to give the donor’s full name, social security number and/or date of birth.

Does a donor's family receive a report of findings when studies are completed?

No. The nature of our studies makes it impractical to report details to families or their representative. Similarly, although our utilization of donated bodies contributes to advances in biomedical science, we cannot guarantee that an individual donation will be used to increase knowledge of any specific disease or clinical condition.

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

After our studies are complete – usually 18 months or more after death – the remains will be cremated. The family or estate will be contacted when the cremains are ready for release. The cremains may either be picked up at the ABP office by prior arrangement or mailed to a designee via United States Postal Service Certified Mail. The University will pay the shipping costs.

Is payment made in connection with donation of a body?

No, It is illegal to buy or sell human bodies in all 50 states.

May friends and/or relatives make contributions to the Anatomy Bequest Program in my memory?

Yes. Gifts will be acknowledged for the donor and to your family. Funds from such gifts will be used only for medical education and research.

Last Published: Apr 23, 2021