About the Program
Donating Your Body
The need for donations:
Who can donate:
How one can donate:
When Death Occurs
At the time of the donor's death, the person responsible for making final arrangements should call Harvard Medical School at 617.432.1735 as soon as possible to determine if HMS can accept the donation.
Once a gift is accepted, a funeral director chosen by the family should be contacted and instructed to consult HMS for instructions about the transportation of the body. HMS will pay a stipend directly to the funeral director toward the costs of transportation from the place of death to HMS and obtaining the Burial/Removal Permit and a certified copy of the Death Certificate.
The funeral director will be reimbursed only for the cost of these services according to the policy and levels of reimbursement established by HMS. The donor's estate will be responsible for any costs charged by the funeral director that exceed the stipend. If death occurs outside of Massachusetts, Harvard's stipend to the funeral director will apply; however, any additional out-of-state travel expenses will fall to the donor's estate.
In general, families are encouraged to discuss with the funeral director, before the remains come to HMS, whether and to what extent there may be additional charges.
HMS must receive donor remains within 24 hours after death unless specific exemption is granted by HMS. A body that has been autopsied or embalmed cannot be accepted for donation.
When Studies are Complete
Within a period of up to approximately twenty-four months, when studies are complete, Harvard Medical School will carry out the disposition of the remains as elected on the Instrument of Anatomical Gift, to the extent consistent with the current policy of Harvard Medical School. The options available at the present time are:
Acceptance of an anatomical gift is contigent upon the decision of Harvard Medical School at the time of death of the donor. Harvard Medical School reserves the right, at any time, to decline a particular anatomical gift for any reason.
The School has an ongoing need for donations and carefully reviews all possibilities for utilizing donations for purposes of education, research and the advancement of medical or dental science or therapy. Although most anatomical donations are accepted at the time of death, a donor (or donor family) should plan alternative arrangements for private cremation and/or burial in the event a donation must be declined.
We thank you for your interest in this gift to medical education and research.