Eligibility to Donate
Most adults are eligible for anatomical donation. The medical school uses gifted bodies to study the structure of the whole human body. We accept and use as many bodies as possible. However, there may be certain circumstances that make it inadvisable for us to accept a donation. If you are considering a whole body anatomical donation and you choose to plan for it, you should also make alternate arrangements with a funeral director in the event we cannot accept your donation. Disqualifying circumstances may include when an autopsy has been performed, the presence of an infectious or contagious disease or obesity. Please do not let this deter you from planning a donation, if that is your wish. Without your initial statement of intent to donate, our program would not exist.
Planning is important because time is a factor in anatomical donations. Usually, donor bodies are embalmed as soon as we receive them and they are stored until needed. It is our policy not to accept a donor who has been deceased for more than 24 hours. On occasion, the UR may transfer a donor to another institution legally authorized to receive anatomical gifts for medical education. However, all donors are returned and cremated at the UR.
Once a donated body has been received at the University of Rochester, there can be no viewing.
How to Donate
In New York State, a donor must be at least 18 year of age and of sound mind. Donation forms are available for download or by calling (585) 275-2592.
The donation form is completed in duplicate and signed in the presence of and by two witnesses, as required by the Public Health Law and does not need to be notarized. Witnesses must be at least 18 years of age and should be family members or friends. When you have completed the form, you can mail it to the Anatomical Gift Program at the address provided on the form. It is also advisable to include a statement regarding your wishes for whole body donation in your will.
Within 3 weeks of receiving your donation form, we will send you a yellow pocket card acknowledging your intention to donate. Please allow 3 weeks for your card to arrive. Once it does, please keep it with you at all times. If you are admitted to a hospital or other health care facility, please let the staff know that in the event of your death, you are a whole body donor.
Organ and Body Donation
A person may also donate his or her eyes and still donate their whole body to our program. However, the recovery of other internal organs for transplant, such as heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, intestines and kidneys or tissues such as bone, skin, heart for valve, and blood vessels requires extensive surgery and generally means that the body will not be acceptable for donation to our program.
If you wish, you may donate your eyes to organizations such as the Rochester Eye and Tissue Bank, but you must make these arrangements separately from your whole body anatomical donation. Directly contact the Rochester Eye and Tissue Bank. They can provide you with the current enrollment form for eye donation and answer questions you may have regarding the process. If your loved one dies outside the hospital setting, it is your family’s responsibility to contact the eye bank regarding your donation to them.
Payment is Prohibited
The laws of New York and all other states specifically prohibit the giving of "anything of value" in return for a whole body gift or donation of organs. This means that no cash or payment of any kind can be made to a donor or their survivors.