OHSU

FAQ

"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

Q. Are there any conditions which would invalidate my donation?
A. Emaciation or obesity, extensive burns, mutilation, advanced decomposition, or a history of contagious diseases (hepatitis, AIDS, Jacob-Kreutzfeld, tuberculosis, MRSA, VRE, etc.) are the most common reasons we cannot accept a donor. It should be understood that determination of the acceptability of a donor for anatomical donation can only be made at the time of death, since the cause of death may render the donation unusable for study. To avoid undue grief and disappointment to members of your family, they should be made aware of these conditions.

Q: Am I guaranteed that my body will be accepted to the program?
A: No. the decision to accept or refuse a body is made only after death because the cause of death and condition of the body may render the body inappropriate for use in the program. An alternate plan should be in place with a funeral home in the event that a body donation is not accepted.

Q: Is any money paid to the donor?
A: No. Federal law prohibits the buying and selling of organs, tissue or bodies donated for transplant, research or medical education. 

Q: Can I be assured that my remains will be handled properly?
A: Yes. Proper handling and respect is paramount and will be given to the deceased in all phases of our teaching and research program. All embalming and storage areas have key locks restricted to authorized personnel only.

Q: What happens when the studies are completed?
A: The remains are cremated in the crematorium at the OHSU School of Medicine and returned to a place specified by the donor or the family.

Q: How long will it be before my family will receive the cremains for final disposition?
A: Normally the length of time for the final disposition will be from six months to three years.

Q: Can I change my mind?
A: Yes. The Body Donation Form is a legal document, but it may be cancelled 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.

Q: Does the designation of “D for donor” on my license enroll me in the program?
A: No. Your driver's license may be coded with a "D" for donor but this is not sufficient to enroll you in the Body Donation Program. The program requires a separate registration forms to be completed by donor or the donor’s family. This license designation does qualify you for tissue donation. For more details, please visit the Donate Life Northwest website (http://www.donatelifenw.org/).

Q. Can my family receive the ashes?
A. Yes, if written instructions are given to us shortly after delivery of the donor's body.

Q. Will my family receive a report of your findings?
A. No. Since we do not conduct autopsies, no reports are prepared. Bodies are used mainly in basic medical education and no record of pathological findings is kept by students.

Q. Is it likely that my body will be used in research studying a disease that I have?
A. Generally not. Any research done would be according to the specific needs of a researcher.

Q. Can a donor choose to donate his or her organs before donating to the Anatomical Donations Program?
A. Generally not but we do and have accepted donors after Lion’s eye Bank on a case by case basis.

Q. Is there a memorial service for the donors?
A. Yes. Oregon Health Science University conducts an annual memorial service commemorating donors. Family members will be notified of the date, time, and place of the burial service.

Q. What is a permanent donation?
A. A donor may choose to donate his or her body without any restriction as to the length of time that the body may be used. Permanent donors may be used for educational or research purposes that require an extended length of time. Consequently, the ashes of permanent donors will not be returned to the family.

Q. Will my body be used for teaching or research?
A. Most donors are used to teach medical and dental students, and in continuing education programs. A small number of donors are used to teach students in allied health fields such as nursing and physical therapy. Some are used for research, and others by surgeons to study operative techniques.

Q. What is meant on the donation form by "permanent preservation" of an organ or part for teaching purposes?
A. An organ or part from a donor's body may be so unusual (such as an abnormally developed, or diseased organ or part), or so useful for teaching purposes that it is desirable to preserve it so that more than one group of students may study it. Such an organ can be "plastinated" so that it may be used over and over without deterioration.