Body Donation Program

We hope the following information will prove helpful to anyone who might consider donating their body to the Department of Anatomical Sciences, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us Monday through Friday at (631) 444-3111. Ask for Linda Benson.

Why should I consider an anatomical bequeathal?
The use of the human body for medical research and education is universally accepted. The study of medicine would not be possible without the aid of those who donate their bodies toward advancement of medical science.

Who can donate?
Any competent person over 18 years of age can donate his or her body for medical education and research. An estate executor or next-of-kin may also make an anatomical donation.

Does age, disease, amputation or prior surgery make the donation unacceptable?
Not usually other than COVID-19, HIV infection, or hepatitis. Other reasons for body rejection include: autopsy, decomposition, obesity, age under 16 or previous embalming.

Can organs be donated to organ banks and the body still used for medical study?
A body from which major organs have been removed is unsuitable for anatomical study. However, arrangements can be made for eye donation through The Eye Bank for Sight Restoration, and it is also acceptable for skin to be harvested for the skin bank at a burn center.

Should the donor inform someone of the bequest?
Yes, definitely. If possible, the next of kin should be notified and have access to all information regarding the bequest. If there is no living next of kin, another family member or friend should be informed. It is also advisable for a donor to notify his or her physician and/or attorney of the arrangements.

Could a bequest be made as a codicil to a will?
Yes. Consult an attorney for details.

Are bodies embalmed before medical study?
Yes, and due to the particular requirements of the medical school, a special formula must be used by our staff Funeral Director.

How long do the studies usually take? [Top]
Anatomical studies are detailed and intense. These studies often take up to two years.

What is the final disposition following study?
This institution uses cremation. Individual caskets are provided and the University assumes the cost of cremation.

Can the cremated remains be returned to the family for burial?
Yes, provided advance arrangements are made with the Department of Anatomical Sciences.
What happens if the donor's family does not want the cremains?
Ashes are scattered at sea if the family has not requested their return.

If a bequest is made, and the donor or family has a change of mind, can the gift be rescinded?
Yes. The bequeathal forms will be returned immediately upon request.

How about copies of the death certificate?
All of the necessary processing is accomplished by our staff Funeral Director. Death certificates may be obtained from the local registrar.

Can a service be held for the deceased? [Top]
Of course. However, the medical school must receive the unembalmed remains of the deceased as soon as possible after death.
Does the medical school offer any ceremonies to honor the donors?
The first year medical and dental students typically organize a donor remembrance ceremony held in March or April. Next of kin will receive an invitation to the ceremony in the mail and are welcome to include additional family members.

What expenses are involved upon the death of the donor?
All expenses are borne by Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University. This includes the transportation of remains within Long Island. Sometimes it is possible to arrange for transportation if death occurs in other parts of New York State or in other states. However, in these circumstances, the family may be faced with two alternatives: (1) to have the unembalmed body transported to the University at the expense of the family or estate, or (2) to donate the remains to a medical school in the region where death occurred.

What steps are to be taken upon the death of the donor?
The attending physician, family, hospital or other attendant should notify the Department of Anatomical Sciences at (631) 444-3111.

How do I enroll in the program? [Top]
Bequeathal forms authorizing anatomical donation are available upon request. Either phone Linda Benson at (631) 444-3111, or download and print out the form, and mail it to us at the Department of Anatomical Sciences, Health Sciences Center, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-8081.