How Do I Donate?

COVID Protocol: Upon death, any donor must be 21 days past any positive COVID test, with no symptoms, and verbal confirmation from medical professionals that they are recovered.

  - Updated August 9th, 2023.

Duke Chapel Tower against clear sky

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 an information packet with our printable donor card and helpful forms from the Program. Be sure your family or relevant persons know that you want to be a whole body donor and understand the criteria and procedure for anatomical donation. 

Overview, Criteria and Procedure for Anatomical Body Donation to Duke School of Medicine

See Commonly Asked Questions for additional information.

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.

Please review this information, print out the two copies of the donor card (p.2 of the document), sign them with two witnesses.  Keep one with you and give one to someone who is most likely able to assist at the time of your death.  Please keep all other documents in a place where it can be easily found at the time of your death.  Do not send any of these documents back to us until the time of death (pp. 11-13).  We do not keep any records prior to the time of death.  We do, however, recommend contacting us if a death is becoming imminent.  If you wish a paper copy of this information packet with donor cards mailed to you, please call: 919-681-5471.

Download Information packet with our printable donor card and helpful forms