Donate Your Body To Science

“It was Al's wish that his body be used and now to know that first year medical students have benefited, makes me feel honored to have fulfilled his wish.”

Mrs. C Eugene, Oregon

Anatomy, the study of the structure of the human body, is one of the most important courses in the education of physicians, dentists, nurses, physical therapists and other allied health professionals.

In most of these fields, the study of anatomy comes first in the curriculum and serves as the foundation for other courses. Often after finishing their basic anatomy course, students take special or advanced anatomy studies. In addition, physicians in residency training and those in practice often pursue special courses in anatomy.

Due to the rate at which medical science is advancing, it is increasingly necessary for physicians and other biomedical scientists to conduct special anatomical studies and research. Anatomical bequests are greatly appreciated as each contributes directly to new understandings. The support from the general public, medical, dental, legal and mortuary science professions is appreciated.

The indispensable contribution that body donors have made is fully recognized. The teaching laboratories are situated in a restricted area and only medical, dental, allied health students, faculty and staff are authorized to use the facility.

Our program mission

The primary mission of our program is to support anatomy education to medical, dental and other allied health students. Minimal research is supported by our program at this time. Anatomy education is the foundation of a student's medical knowledge and is one of their primary courses during their first year of medical school. Students are not knowledgeable enough at this stage to recognize or diagnose diseases or conditions. Donors can also aid in continuing education opportunities for practicing residents, physicians and surgeons to learn new surgical approaches and device deployment.

Our program does not perform autopsies, and no reports are given.

Planning and logistics

It is always advisable for the next of kin or responsible member of your family to know of your bequest, so that it may be carried out at the time of death.

Please be aware there is a transportation fee for deaths occurring outside of Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington or Clark County. To find out specifically what fee is applicable to your situation, call our office at 503-494-8302, as transportation is charged by county.

If death occurs at a considerable distance from OHSU, transportation costs, legal issues and potential deterioration of the deceased may put a time constraint on the delivery and acceptance of the donor to the University. Explore other anatomical donation programs in the United States.

If a donor has an existing pre-arrangement with a funeral home, please contact that funeral home and use their professional services for assistance into the body donation program.

If we are unable to accept a donor into our program, you will need to contact your local funeral home for further assistance.

Body donation and the law

For legal details, please see the Oregon Anatomical Gift Act.

Federal law prohibits the buying and selling of tissue or bodies donated for transplant, research or medical education.

Changing your mind about donation

The Body Donation Form is a legal document, but it may be amended or cancelled by the donor at any time by a phone call or letter to the Body Donation Program requesting that the form be removed from the donor files and destroyed.

Taking care of the body

All donors are handled with the greatest respect, in accordance with the highest ethical standards and in full compliance with federal and state laws and regulations, including the Oregon Anatomical Gifts Act. Embalming and storage areas are restricted to authorized personnel only.

Time frames for body donation

Most donors will be with our program for 2-3 years before they undergo final disposition in accordance to what was selected on their consent form.

There is an indefinite option for use. Indefinite donors choose to donate their body without any time restriction. Indefinite donors may be used for educational or research purposes outside of the three year range. The remains of indefinite donors will not be returned to the next of kin or authorized agent. All indefinite donors will be cremated followed by burial at sea.

How to enroll

To become a body donor, please download the form:

Download the body donation form (pdf)

Mail completed form to:

Body Donation Program
Oregon Health & Science University
3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road
School of Medicine, L341
Portland, Oregon 97239-3098

Enrollment is only the first step. Please know that by filling out these forms, you are only enrolled in our program and need additional medical screening to be accepted.

Medical assessment - read more