Answers to Your Questions
About Donating Your Body to Medical Education and Research
Why are human bodies donated to the Quillen College of Medicine?
They are an indispensable aid in medical teaching. The basis of all medical knowledge is human anatomy; human anatomy can be learned only by a study of the human body. Without this study there would be no physicians, and no surgery.
How will my body be used?
Most bodies are used to teach medical and physical therapy students, residents and in the continuing education program for surgeons.
Will my body or body parts be sold or used by anyone other than the College of Medicine?
No. All remains that are donated to the Program are used for teaching programs.
Will the person studying my body be aware of its identity?
No. Identity is strictly confidential. The only information given to the students is age at the time of death and the cause of death.
Are there any restrictions on the condition of bodies accepted?
Yes. The remains may be refused in certain instances when tissues have been destroyed (for example, by a serious automobile accident), or when the body has been autopsied, or embalmed incorrectly. Also, we will not accept the remains if organs other than the eyes have been removed at the time of death, if the body weight is in excess of 230 pounds, or if the donor has or dies of a contagious disease (for example, AIDS, hepatitis, MRSA, staph). The determination of the acceptability of the body or donation can only be made at the time of death, since the cause of death may render the donation unusable for study. To avoid undue grief and disappointment to members of your family, they should be made aware of these conditions and have an alternate plan.
Is this a normal and acceptable procedure?
Definitely, yes. It is critical to medical education and advancement of health care in our area and beyond.
Are there ethical standards in the use of my body for health sciences?
The highest professional standards are carefully followed, and the body is treated with dignity and respect. Only authorized persons are involved, and all are thoroughly trained in fundamental requirements and professionalism.
Is there an urgent need for body donations?
The need is great and will be increased by the demand for more physicians, dentists, nurses, and other health service practitioners.
Is donating one’s body difficult or complicated?
No, it is a very simple and easy procedure. One needs only to complete a donation form which requires a few items of information: the donor’s social security number, the donor’s birthdate and signature and the signature of two (2) witnesses.
Can a donation take place against the wishes of the spouse or next-of-kin?
Under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, your wishes take legal precedence over those of your next-of-kin. However, the Quillen College of Medicine will not accept a body when there is an objection to donation or dissension among members of the family who are legally responsible for final disposition of the body. Donors are advised to notify all persons likely to be concerned of their intentions and of their plans to make a donation of their body.
Then what is the purpose of pre-arranged donation?
Your donation relieves the next-of-kin of making this decision under the handicap of grief. Your pre-arranged donation protects both the Quillen College of Medicine and your survivors, and simplifies the procedure at the time of death.
What if I have expressed a wish to donate my body but neglect to sign the donation form before death occurs?
Your survivors can carry out your wishes by immediately notifying the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology of your death and then signing the following statement. This release statement should be sent with the body.
“ I/we being the next-of-kin of (name of deceased) do hereby agree to the use of his/her body to the Quillen College of Medicine for education purposes.”
NOTE: Due to current financial constraints, we may not be able to accept donors outside of our 30 mile radius and/or not accept a donor that is not pre-registered.
Can the next-of-kin donate the body of a recently deceased relative to medical science?
Yes, the person(s) legally entitled to the custody the body and of legal age can make this donation by signing the release form described above.
May I alter, cancel or revoke my donation if I change my mind?
Yes, at any time by writing to the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology.
Will I or my family be paid for my body?
No. State law prohibits the selling of bodies and parts thereof. There is a rumor which persists, even today, all over the country. We do not buy bodies. Your donation should be made in the spirit of a truly priceless gift for mankind and the advancement of health sciences.
Are bodies acceptable if the EYES have been donated to the Eye Bank?
Yes. However, a donation cannot be accepted if organ(s) such as kidney, heart, lungs are donated for transplant purposes. The procedures involved in removal of organs are extensive and interrupt the blood vessels in so that it is not possible to achieve the type of embalming necessary for carrying out future anatomical studies.
How long is required for the scientific study?
In most instances there is a time lapse of from 1 to 3 years between the arrival of the body at the College of Medicine and completion of the study.
Must I be a resident of Tennessee to donate my body?
No. Persons residing outside the state (over 30 miles from Johnson City) may make this request regardless of the distance i f the cost of transportation and embalming are assumed by the estate of the deceased. Individuals in neighboring states are encouraged to contact medical schools within their respective state prior to donating to the Quillen College of Medicine to determine if these expenses can be avoided.
What if my death occurs away from home?
An identification card and necklace with instructions are provided by the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology. This card and/or necklace should be in your possession at all times. However, the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology can only be responsible for transportation charges within 30 miles of the University. Should a donor die while traveling in another part of the state or country, the family should contact the nearest medical school. In such cases, the high cost of transportation and time limitation preclude delivery of the body to the medical school originally designated in a timely manner.
What if I should move to another state?
If the distance from Johnson City exceeds 30 miles, a substitute arrangement made with a medical school nearest your home may be desirable to avoid unnecessary transportation expenses.
In the event of a change of address, should I notify the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology?
Yes. Occasionally we mail out updated information about our donor program, etc. Notifying us of your new address will make sure that you are kept informed of any new information concerning the Program. If you move outside of the immediate area or state, you should make arrangements for the donation of your body to the medical school nearest your new location.
May a customary or traditional funeral service be held prior to the transfer of the body to the Quillen College of Medicine?
A memorial service without the remains present is recommended. Conducting a traditional funeral service with the remains of the donor present would cause a delay in our receiving the body, making embalming impossible.
May a local funeral home which I select embalm by remains?
No. The Quillen College of Medicine has a state contract with a funeral home that uses the procedures that we require. These are different from normal embalming requirements.
How will the death certificate be handled?
Certified copies of the death certificate may be obtained from the Health Department in the county where the death occurred. Our contracted funeral home will provide an application to the next-of-kin for this purpose.
What happens when the scientific study is concluded?
The remains will be cremated. The Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology will incur the expense for cremation. The expense for the burial of the ashes will be at the expense of the surviving relatives. If no such request is made, the ashes will be buried in a cemetery plot owned by the College of Medicine.
Will my family receive a report of the results of your studies?
No. Our studies do not include any pathological investigation that could result in any detailed report.
If you have additional questions, call TOLL FREE:
1-866-968-3668 (1-866-968-YOU DON8) or write:
Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology
East Tennessee State University
Johnson City TN 37614-1708