Human Body Donation Resources

Human Body Donation Program Best Practices

In response to growing concerns of body donation practices, a task force commissioned by the AAA, made up of individuals directly involved with management and oversight of BDPs in several states the following recommendations have been developed to provide guidelines that body donation programs can follow. These are recommended guidelines based on the current best practices in the field. They are not prescriptive and have no legal or enforcement ramifications. Below is a summary of these guidelines.

Human Body Donation Committee Best Practices Summary

The Donation of Bodies for Education & Biomedical Research

Guidelines Suggested by the American Association for Anatomy

The American Association for Anatomy (AAA) strongly believes it is critical that those entrusted with responsibility for a Willed Body Program meet high standards related to the integrity, identity, and security of the bodies donated to their programs.

Donation Policies

  • The donation of bodies must follow state and local laws. An institution may have additional requirements but cannot have fewer requirements than state and local governments.
  • Donation forms must follow state and local regulations and requirements.
  • Donation literature should describe all possible uses of donated bodies at that institution.

Institutional Polices

  • Each institution should have an oversight committee to which the individual in charge of the Body Donation Program reports.
  • The Institutional Oversight Committee shall appoint an individual to be responsible for the daily operation of the Body Donation Program.
  • The Body Donation Program should be reviewed on a yearly basis by the Institutional Oversight Committee.

Program Polices

  • Body Donation Programs should clearly describe the use of cadavers as it relates to institutional and educational needs.
  • Records documenting the use of cadavers should be reviewed by the Institutional Oversight Committee on a regular basis.
  • The shipment of cadavers must follow all state and local requirements.
  • Facilities where cadavers are used must be appropriate and secured from entry by unauthorized personnel.
  • Disposal of cadaveric remains should be documented and must follow all state and local regulations and requirements.

Adopted November 13, 2009 by the Board of Directors
Revised October 22, 2019 by the Board of Directors

Donating Your Body to Science

If you are interested in donating your body to science, please contact your nearest medical school to inquire about policies related to body donation. Each state in the United States has different rules and regulations regarding body donation. Medical schools have liaison offices to help potential donors navigate the process of body donation. Thank you for giving the ultimate gift.

Also See

A Discussion on Body Donation
A statement on the unethical and criminal acts of some “body-brokers.”

Human Body Donation Committee
AAA members addressing practices, policies, and issues related to human body donation.

Body Donation & COVID-19
Guidelines for body donation programs established by the International Federation of Associations of Anatomists (May 27, 2020).

How Body Donation Programs Are Continuing Amid COVID-19
Joy Balta examines how body donation programs around the country are adapting to COVID-19 in real time in Anatomy Now Weekly (July 1, 2020).

Guidance for Institutions/Anatomists When Utilising Cadaveric Material for Online Teaching Sessions
Developed by an informal UK working group during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide recommendations on donor consent, learner digital code, and institutional probity and professional processes.

Consensual Donation and Research Integrity Act of 2019 response
AAA comments on proposed amendments to the Public Health Service Act to “create a registration and tracking system for bodies and body parts donated for research and guarantees their respectful disposition.”