You can make an important contribution to seriously ill people or to the education of health care professionals by agreeing in advance to make an anatomical donation when you die.
Anatomical donations can include organ and tissue donation to persons in need or donation of your body for medical training and research.
You can indicate your choice to become an organ and tissue donor by designating it on your driver’s license or state identification card (at your nearest driver’s license office) or with your Advance Directive. More information about organ and tissue donation is available on the federal website www.OrganDonor.gov.
You can also call the University of Vermont’s Anatomical Gift Program at 802-656-2230 for enrollment forms. UVM will not accept a body without having these forms on file. Visit UVM's Anatomical Gift Program.
Be aware that there are for-profit companies around the U.S. that will offer free cremation in exchange for body donation for medical research. They may even fly the body to another state, free of charge. Many of these companies do good work and are well-meaning. However, there are some that sell body parts, profiting from the goodwill of others.
Questions to ask before considering such a donation:
- Are the needs for body donation to UVM already satisfied?
- If the body is to be dissected and sold or distributed to other agencies, who keeps track of where the body parts are?
- What happens to these body parts after medical study?
- Will any of the (usually cremated) remains be returned to the family?
After being used for medical education or research, the body will ordinarily be cremated. The cremains will be returned to loved ones, if they requested that at the time of donation.