It is not unusual for someone who has died to have left behind, as part of their legacy, a request that all or part of their body be donated to medical science or as a life-giving gift. Even if a donation legacy was not left, the individual's family may choose donation on their behalf. Individuals may choose to donate their whole body, organs, tissue and/or bones to help as many people as they can.
Body donation is when the whole body is donated to medical science for scientific research and medical and mortuary training. This type of donation provides medical students the opportunity to learn more about anatomy and disease. Body donations help researchers investigate how diseases and medical conditions start and progress; determine how a condition could have been prevented or cured; and work toward improving medical technologies.
When considering donating a body to medical science, families are encouraged to make arrangements in advance so that their wishes can be honored and the body transferred to the appropriate facility or school. There is limited, if any, out-of-pocket costs to families.
Eventually, the body will be cremated, at which time the cremated remains can be returned to family members upon request. Even with a body donation, you can still have a family gathering or service to honor the deceased. Contact your local funeral director to discuss your options.
There are a number of medical institutions that accept body donations. There are also two public institutions that accept donations in New Jersey: