The Anatomical Gift Program is now requiring proof of a recent COVID test proving the donor is COVID negative; or proof of COVID vaccination as a condition of acceptance. We do not accept donors who currently, or have recently had COVID19, even if they are recovered. Our other criteria also apply.
Please contact us prior to the death of a loved one, if possible, so we can assess that necessary steps are in place for donation.
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 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 two copies of the donor card, 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. We do not keep any records prior to the time of death. We do recommend contacting us if a death is pending.
- Download Overview, Process and Criteria
- Download Donor Card
- Download Voluntary Health Information and Vital Information Documents
"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