Body Donation

Individuals wishing to donate their body to advance medical education at Indiana University School of Medicine can now do so through the Direct Donor Program, which allows donors to bequeath their remains directly to the school without incurring the time and expense of making this generous donation through a funeral home. Families can simply call the Anatomical Education Program at 317-274-7450. The school will retrieve the remains and file necessary paperwork, including the death certificate and proper permits. Following use of the body for medical education, the remains are cremated and either inurned in Crown Hill Cemetery or, upon request, returned to the family.

The Direct Donor Program is designed to make anatomical gifts easier for families and to eliminate funeral home charges. However, if a family wishes to make arrangements for the donation through a funeral home, then all fees incurred by the funeral home are the responsibility of the donor family.

The Anatomical Education Program at IU School of Medicine, created in 1903, is charged by the State of Indiana to provide for the acquisition and distribution of human bodies for use in health science education programs in Indiana. Teaching programs at Indiana University School of Medicine and the School of Dentistry rely on body donations to train future physicians, dentists, physical therapists, nurses and other types of health professionals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Any person 18 years of age or over may donate their body to medical science in Indiana. No upper age limit applies.

Complete and submit the Certificate of Bequeathal form. Upon your passing, your family can call the Anatomical Education Program at 317-274-7450. If your donation is accepted (see below for reasons that bodies may not be accepted by the program), the school will retrieve your body and file necessary paperwork, including the death certificate and proper permits.

No money is paid for procurement of bodies for anatomical studies. All human material utilized in teaching is acquired by donation only.

Donations made directly to the Anatomical Education Program through the Direct Donor Program do not incur any costs for donors. The Direct Donor Program provides transportation and embalming and also assists in filing of related paperwork, including the death certificate, obituary and other necessary forms, at no cost to the family. However, if a newspaper charges for the obituary or if the family needs certified copies of the death certificate, then the family will pay these fees directly to the newspaper or the board of health.

No, donors and their families may have a funeral director provide services related to body preparation and transportation and for records related to the death. However, a funeral director may charge you for these services, and the donor family will be responsible for these costs.

Your family should call the Anatomical Education Program at 317-274-7450 upon your passing. These phones are answered 24 hours a day, and program staff can guide your family through the procedures. A medical screening is conducted over the phone to determine if your body can be accepted.

The Anatomical Education Program should be notified of the death at 317-274-7450, and a medical screening will be conducted over the phone. Once the body is accepted by the program, your family should make arrangements with a local funeral director to assume responsibility for bringing your body to IU School of Medicine. In this case, your family will be responsible for the cost of preparing and transporting the body.

Cause of death can prevent use of a body for medical education. If the cause of death is an infectious or communicable disease or if there is trauma to the body that may render it unusable for teaching, then the body donation cannot be accepted. Excessive height, weight (maximum 6’0” and 200 lbs.), ostomies, stomas or recent surgery may also prevent acceptance.

The Anatomical Education Program at IU School of Medicine makes every effort to accept all donations, However, if a body is unable to be accepted, then the donor’s family is notified at the time of the telephone medical screening and directed to call a funeral director to make arrangements for an alternative form of disposition.

Donors may elect to have a funeral service, after which the body is brought to the Anatomical Education Program. Some donors have a funeral service; others wait to have a memorial service at a church or funeral home at a later time.

All donations are used for medical education and limited medical research purposes.

Bodies donated to the Anatomical Education Program are cremated after studies on them are complete. Cremains may be claimed or inurned after 18-24 months.

The Anatomical Education Program of Indiana University School of Medicine pays cremation costs.

You may stipulate on the Certificate of Bequeathal a wish to have the cremains returned to your family. After remains are cremated, the family is notified that they may stop at our office and receive the cremains. It is also possible, with a written request, for the program to mail the cremains by certified mail.

A portion of Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis is reserved for burial of cremains of those who gave their bodies to benefit medical education. The cemetery area is marked with a memorial that can be personalized at a family’s request.

Typically, reports are not provided to families. Because donor bodies are utilized for education, they are studied by medical students who are not yet qualified to provide an assessment about causes of death or diagnose medical conditions. Donor bodies are studied to gain an in-depth understanding of human anatomy; research into specific diseases or conditions are not conducted.

Yes. An annual memorial service is held in Indianapolis with a Protestant Chaplin, Priest and Rabbi. Family and friends may attend this service. The service is held in the fall, and donor families receive advance notice of the memorial service.

A person may donate his/her eyes to the Indiana Lions Eye Bank. The donation of tissue and/or organs other than eyes for transplant would render the body unacceptable to the Anatomical Education Program.

Find information about the Indiana Lions Eye Bank online or call 317-808-5000 or 800-232-4384. Find details about the Indiana Donor Network online or by phone at 317-685-0389 or 888-275-4676. The Indiana Blood Center provides information online or by phone at 317-927-1692.

Yes, donors may withdraw a bequeathal at any time with a written request to the Anatomical Education Program.

It may be, although this is not necessary. If provisions are made only in your will, your body may not be accepted since there is usually a considerable delay before a will is probated. The Anatomical Education Program requests that the Certificate of Bequeathal be signed by the donor and two competent witnesses.

Yes. The Anatomical Education Program does accept monetary donations to help support expenses associated with medical, dental and health professions education within the State of Indiana. Such donations qualify for an Indiana College Credit on your State tax form and also qualify for an itemized deduction on Federal taxes.

If you have additional questions about bequeathal procedures or the Anatomical Education Program, call 317-274-7450.