Becoming a part of Duke's Anatomical Gifts Program:
People interested in whole body donation need to discuss their wishes with their families, doctors, and other relevant persons. You can also get a donor card from the Program. Be sure your family or relevant persons know that you want to be a whole body donor and understand the procedure for anatomical donation. That procedure is detailed on the Commonly Asked Questions page.
Even if an individual is listed with the program as someone interested in anatomical donation, we cannot guarantee that we will accept the body at the time of death. The body must be in useful condition at the time of death. For example, if a body is badly damaged in a car accident, it will not be a useful teaching specimen. In addition, we must safeguard our students and lab personnel against certain contagious diseases, like active TB or hepatitis B, that remain contagious after death.
For these reasons, we ask that at the time of death someone contact the program. We have a checklist of questions that we will ask about the cause of death and the condition of the body. When those questions are answered, we can tell the family whether or not the body can be accepted.
The body may be used immediately or held for a future class, perhaps for as long as two years. When the class is finished, the body is cremated (at no charge to the family). The ashes are disposed of in accordance with the family's wishes; some families want the ashes mailed to them or to a funeral home for a memorial service. When the family does not request that the ashes be returned, the ashes are scattered in a special site in Duke Forest.
"I can tell from our conversations that you care about the people and families who find their way to your office and the Duke Anatomical Gifts Program. Thank you for your very thorough records, your knowledge of the process (in the past and present), and your gracious manner of answering all of my questions."
"Thank you so much for a wonderful service. It was most meaningful and explanatory. We were most impressed with the excellent quality of handling the very delicate topic. Everything was carried out with the customary Duke quality. Thank you for all that Duke has done and will continue to do for our families and others."
"Please let me thank you for the memorial service. It had a big impact on the value beyond life."
-- From Donor Families