Frequently Asked Questions;
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. Can a person be too old to donate his or her body?
A. No. Age is not a consideration in body donation. Only the conditions described above may make a donation unacceptable.
Q. Can a donor choose to donate his or her organs before donating to the Anatomical Donations Program?
A. Sometimes. We can often accept donors after organ and tissue donation has occurred. Organizations such as the Gift of Life and the Anatomical Donations Program attempt work together to make the most positive use of a donor's gift. This is not always possible at that time of death due to restrictions of our teaching protocols and because of restrictions from the tissue banks. We suggest donorís and their family discuss this and decide if they would rather have organs and tissues donated for transplant or have their bodies donated for education and research. By doing this the donorís wishes and priority will be more likely to be upheld by their next of kin.
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. How long will it be before my body is used and cremated?
A. While some donors may be used immediately and cremated within one or two months after delivery, most are cremated within 18 months. A donor may also choose to permanently donate her or his body, which means the ashes will never be available for return and that the University has the opportunity to use the donor for any long term study they deem appropriate.
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. Can ashes be exhumed after being buried in the University plot?
A. Ashes buried in our cemetery plot cannot and will not be exhumed under any circumstance or situation.
Q. Is there a memorial service for the donors?
A. Yes. The University of Michigan Medical School conducts an annual memorial service commemorating donors. Family members will be notified of the date, time, and place of the burial service.
Q. Can individual markers be purchased?
A. Yes. You or your family should make arrangements directly with Washtenong Memorial Park. All costs are the responsibility of the donor or the family.
Q. May my family have a funeral service before my body is delivered to the Medical School?
A. Generally, yes. However, the funeral director must first contact our office. Failure to follow the explicit directions of the Anatomical Donations Program in such cases could prevent the intended donation from occurring.
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. Eventually, the donor will be cremated and the ashes interred in the University of Michigan Anatomical Donations Program burial plot.
Q. Will I or my family be paid a fee for a body donation?
A. No. The state anatomical law requires that the body be a gift to the recipient institution.
Q. Who is responsible for the costs of transportation of my body to the University of Michigan Medical School?
A. Transportation costs are the responsibility of your family or estate. Your next of kin should make arrangements with the funeral home of your choice.
Q. Is it possible for an ambulance service or even my family to deliver my body to the Medical School?
A. No, state law requires both a licensed funeral director and a burial transit permit to accompany the donor when delivery occurs at the Medical School. The University of Michigan also requires the funeral director to provide copies of the death certificate and release forms signed by the next of kin or a court appointed executor. The University requires all donors to be transported in a professional, ethical manner in vehicles equipped with proper mortuary transportation systems.
Q. Will your department accept my body if I die out-of-state?
A. Because of transportation costs, legal issues, and potential deterioration of the donor's body, we recommend that your body be donated to a medical school in the area where death occurs. We can, however, normally accept a donor if they meet the medical criteria and your family wishes to make the arrangements, bear the cost, and ensure a prompt delivery.
Q. What if I should die on a weekend or holiday?
A. Your family or the funeral director should call (734) 764-4359 promptly for instructions, so that a determination of acceptability and other arrangements can be made as soon as possible. In case of difficulty, please call a university operator at (734) 764-1817.
Q. Is it necessary to include my body donation in my will?
A. No, because a will may not be read in time for delivery of the donor to the University. It is more important to have these instructions readily available on a wallet donation card or donation form, but most importantly have your next of kin be aware of your intentions and desire to be an anatomical whole body donor.
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.