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Donating Your Body To Science

We often get questions about anatomical donations (aka donating your body to science).  Generally, anatomical donations are coordinated through medical schools.  Just because you want to donate your body does not mean it will happen.  In New Hampshire, Dartmouth Medical School is the only approved facility for accepting body donations in the state.  But the number of people wanting to donate far exceeds the demand.    Medical schools simply do not need all of the anatomical donations that are available and often will not accept a donor’s body.   Most schools also require the individual to pre-register and fill out necessary form well in advance.  There are research companies that will also allow you to donate your body.  One of the largest is ScienceCare (www.sciencecare.com).   Donating your body is a very noble gesture and is one of the ways to help further medial research and assist in the training of future physicians.  But if you are considering donating your body, make sure you have a back up plan for funeral or cremation arrangements in the likely case you are not able to be a donor.

People also assume there is no fee to donate your body to science.  In fact, there is almost always a cost in doing so but many medical schools and anatomical research facilities will reimburse the family for part of all of the expenses.  When you donate your body to science, there is no casket, embalming or funeral expenses in the traditional sense.  But there are charges to move the body from the place of death, get your body to the medical school, file the death certificate, notify social security and assist the family with scheduling any memorial services.  These fees can be a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars depending upon where the medical school is located and the type of assistance the family will need in coordinating the above mentioned items.  The good news is that most of these fees will be offset by a reimbursement from the medical school or research institute.  However, donating your body will, in most cases, involved the services of a funeral home in some limited way.

Body donation is also not the same as organ donation.  Also before you donate your body, you should find out what happens with the remains after the institution is completed with them.  In some cases, the remains are cremated and retured to the family.  In other cases, nothing is returned.  If this is a concern to you and your family, you should seek this out well in advance of your decision.

You are not limited to donating your body to an institution in the state in which you reside.  For example, residents of New Hampshire can make arrangements for donations with any of the several medical schools in Massachusetts.  But again, in most cases, the supply far exceeds the demand and most people that want to donate their body do not end up being able to do so.

Before you consider donating your body, you should discuss your wishes with your family, your attorney and become familar with the New Hampshire Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/NHTOC/NHTOC-XXVI-291-A.htm)

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