Consider Body Donation for Science Research

By Linda Banks

 Donate body to science and receive cremated remains

Sooner or later we all think about death and what we want done with our final remains. When families discuss end-of-life options, the idea of donating a body to scientific research often comes up.  It is an option chosen by many who have watched a family member die from disease in hopes that the donation will help find new cures.  Others not wanting to leave a financial burden on the family, may choose to donate his or her body and receive free or discounted transportation and cremation. 

Cost free cremation while helping others

For those who have chosen cremation rather than burial, donation of the entire body to science is a natural choice.   After the body has been used for research it is cremated by the research institution, and the cremated remains are returned to the family.  The family may then have a memorial service and store the ashes in a memorial cremation urn, or scatter or bury the remains, depending upon the wishes of the deceased. There are biodegradable urns, scattering urns, and a great variety of keepsake urns available to store, share, bury or scatter the ashes.

Most states have an anatomical donation program through each state’s medical school.  For those states that do not have donation programs, neighboring states can be contacted.  Each program has different requirements. It is best to search via a state’s medical schools where contact information can be found.  

Check out private companies

There are several private companies in the United States that accept donation of whole bodies to be used for educational and scientific research. One such company, Science Care, established in 2000, accepts whole body donations. If your body is accepted, Science Care provides free transportation of body, free cremation, free death certificate filing, and free return of cremated remains. There is no age limit, and bodies are accepted even if they are not healthy. According to their website, (, the cremated remains are returned to the family within three to five weeks. Science Care plants a tree in honor of each donor on the one-year anniversary of donation through its Memory in Nature™ collaboration with the Arbor Day Foundation. 

While they recommend that people register in advance of their death, it is not necessary.  Science Care can be contacted after the loved one has died.  They have a special pre-screening process available for hospice patients through their Science Care’s Hope Program.  

If you are a resident of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida or Texas, you may register directly with Science Care on line through their website.  If not, you may begin the process by calling their toll-free telephone number (1-800-417-3747).  While there is no guarantee that your body will be accepted until your death, Science Care states on their website that illnesses, including cancer, do not preclude your acceptance.  They provide more information about the body donation process and the nature of research done at their website. 

As with any estate or end-of-life planning, it is important to communicate your wishes with your family and to include your requests in your written Will.


Linda Banks provided extended end-of-life care for her beloved Aunt who was like her mother. When her brother suddenly died, she was instrumental in orchestrating all of the details of his final wishes to be cremated. Linda has been an active blogger for ten years, including blogging about Willie Nelson and his family. Willie told her recently that he reads her blog every day. 

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