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Here you'll find the answers to commonly asked questions about body donation, however, if you have additional questions or concerns, please contact the Bodies for Science Program at (909) 558-4301 or at bodiesforscience@llu.edu.

 

FAQs

Why is donation important?

Medical students must have the opportunity to dissect the human body in order to become familiar with each region and system of the body. This foundational knowledge of anatomy helps them throughout the course of their training to make diagnoses, follow the progress of disease, perform surgery and care for other ailements. Graduate physicians, too, use human bodies for research as part of their continued education. In the anatomy lab, surgeons practice surgical procedures and determine the feasibility of new techniques in order to better treat living persons.

Is it legal to donate my body?

Yes! Just like organ and tissue donation, whole-body donation is legal and regulated by state laws. The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act was adopted by all states in 1971 and revised in 2006.

California law states: "Every person of sound mind over the age of 18 may dispose of his or her separate property, real and personal, by will. In addition, every such person may by will dispose of the whole or any part of his or her body to a teaching institution, university, college, State Director of Public Health, or legally licensed hospital, or to, or for the use of any nonprofit blood bank, artery bank, eye bank, or other therapeutic service operated by any agency approved by the Director of Public Health under rules and regulations established by the director, either for use as such institution, university, collee, hospital or agency may see fit, or for use as expressly designated therein." (California Probate Code, Section 20)

How do I begin the donation process?

If you are interested in applying to the Bodies for Science Program, complete and return the forms on our application page to:

Bodies for Science
24760 Stewart Street
Loma Linda, CA 92350

Is there cost associated with donation?

There is a charge of $300 for transportation of a body within a 100-mile radius of Loma Linda. An additional fee is charged for distances greater than 100 miles. Loma Linda University will make arrangements for the removal and transportation of the body. We recommend that the transportation fee be paid in advance to avoid confusion and additional stress among surviving family members at the time of death. Checks should be made payable to Bodies for Science. The money is deposited into a restricted university account and not used until the time of a donor's death.

If the fee is not prepaid, a family member will be held responsible for the remaining balance. 

Can I donate organs if I participate in this program?

No. Whole-body donation is not compatible with organ, tissue or gland donation programs. It should be noted that organs from donors older than 55 years of age normally cannot be harvested for transplant, except for corneas, which are accepted up to the age of 73.

Are bodies ever rejected?

The university will not accept the remains of registered donors if the body has been autopsied; if the death was the result of a suicide; if the body has a communicable disease including but not limited to HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B or C, CJD or MRSA; or if the body has excessive weight according to weight/height ratios.

If I am enrolled in the program, how should my family notify the University of my death?

It is important that your next-of-kin are aware of your wishes. The university requires receipt of a body within 12 hours of death, without embalming. At the time of death, the Bodies for Science Program should be contacted at 909-558-4301. If it is after hours or a weekend, please stay on the line and the call will be forwarded to a transportation service contracted by the university.

Will my loved ones be able to hold a funeral?

A funeral service or a viewing is one held in the presence of a body. Because the university must receive the body immediately following a donor's death, it is not possible for a funeral or viewing to be held. However, many families opt to hold memorial services (a service without a body) shortly after the donation is made.

Following completion of study of a body, a memorial service is arranged by Loma Linda University each year around April to honor donors and their families. Family members and loved ones are invited to attend.

How long does study of a body take after donation?

Two or more years are often required to complete the study of a body given to the Bodies for Science Program. Following the completion of the studies, the remains are cremated and interred in university burial plot.

Will ashes be returned to my family?

If you or your family wishes for your ashes to be returned following completion of study and cremation, a written request must be submitted to the Bodies for Science Program. Under no circumstances will un-cremated remains be returned to a donor's family or next-of-kin. It is the responsibility of the family or other responsible party to ensure up-to-date contact information is provided to the Bodies for Science Program.

If no request to return remains to loved ones is received by the Bodies for Science Program, ashes are interred in a local community burial plot.