Frequently Asked Questions

How does one become a Gift Body Donor?

Can I become a donor if I can't sign the donor form myself due to illness or other reasons that prevent me from signing?
  • No.  Donor forms will not be accepted if not signed by the donor.

What if I change my mind?

  • The intent to be a gift body donor may be revoked at anytime. The individual must state in writing that he/she no longer wishes to be a donor. The donor will receive by return mail the revoked form.

What if my family disagrees with my wishes to donate after I die?
  • The Gift Body Program encourages all donors to share their wish for whole body donation with their family members. However, if the next of kin does not wish to carry out the donor's wishes, the Gift Body Program will usually abide.

Are all bodies accepted by the gift body program?
  • Bodies with a communicable disease, infections, isolation precautions such as: HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis, MRSA, ORSA, VRE, C-Diff, etc., which has not been arrested prior to death, will not be accepted under any circumstances.  Additionally, there may be other reasons that Saint Louis University School of Medicine may be unable to accept the donation of a body at the time of death, including but not limited to circumstances involving amputations, autopsy or organ donation, major trauma due to accidents or suicide, or morbid obesisty (in general, females who exceed 200 pounds and males who exceed 250 pounds).  Saint Louis University School of Medicine reserves the right to refuse donations depending upon the condition of the body and/or the needs of the institution.

If my body is autopsied can it still be donated?
  • If the question of an autopsy arises, the family should understand that permission must be received from the Center for Anatomical Science and Education, unless the autopsy is required by a legal authority. Many valuable things are learned from an autopsy, but the basic teaching of the organization of the human body is best learned from the careful study of the unautopsied body.

If my organs are acceptable for transplant to a living individual can my body still be donated?
  • No. Organs (other than eyes) may not be removed for transplant.

What are the costs involved?
  • The only expense that the family or estate incurs when there is a gift body is the transportation by a funeral director or transporting company. It is suggested that inquiry about the charges for transportation be made prior to authorizing delivery. The University pays NO expenses.

What happens to the body?
  • The body will be prepared for use by the Center for Anatomical Science and Education. Following the completion of studies the body will be cremated.

What happens to the ashes? Can my family have them returned for burial?
  • The ashes or cremains are commingled and buried at Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery located at 7030 Gravois in the City of St. Louis. The ashes are buried during a service conducted by the Medical School Campus Minister and attended by faculty and staff of the Center for Anatomical Science and Education. At the site there is one common grave marker with the following inscription: "Saint Louis University and its students gratefully acknowledge the charity of those buried here who gave their remains for the advancement of medical science." No cremains are returned to the family. Upon request the family will be given directions to the grave site.

What happens if I die away from the St. Louis metropolitan area?
  • If a gift body donor dies outside of the St. Louis metropolitan area the same policies hold as if the death occurred in the St. Louis area. The Center for Anatomical Science and Education must be contacted by the funeral home outside of St. Louis for proper procedures. If the family does not want to donate to Saint Louis University because of the distance and costs, the Program Director will recommend another Medical School with a similar gift body program.

Can there be a funeral service with the body present if my body is donated to Saint Louis University?
  • Following death the body needs to be transported to the medical school as soon as possible for proper preparation. Therefore, the body can NOT be present at a funeral or memorial service. All donors and families are encouraged to have a memorial service, depending upon their own faith and beliefs, shortly after the death.