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Department of Cell Biology and Human Anatomy

Department of Cell Biology and Human Anatomy


For more information about the program, questions about suitability of remains for donation or to obtain registration forms please contact the Donated Body Program curator at (916) 734-9560 or

Donated Body Program

Donated Body Program

Why should I consider donating my body to science?

This unique gift of the human body provides the source for knowledge that is the foundation of medical education and research. We use donated cadavers to teach our medical and undergraduate anatomy students the relationship between the systems and structure of the human body.

Donated bodies are also used for research, such as for developing new arthroscopic surgeries, knee, ankle and shoulder joint research, plastic surgery procedures including flap reconstruction for burn victims, surgical approaches to various internal organs, endoscopic courses and many other surgical and medical procedures.

A practical aspect is the financial savings to families, since only the cost of transportation (if death occurs more than 50 miles from UC Davis) is incurred.

As you consider the option of donating your body to science, know that the need is great, and that your gift will be valued and honored. Your donation will play a critical role in helping medical students to master the complex anatomy of the human body and will provide researchers with the essential tools to help our patients of tomorrow.

How can I leave my body to medical science?

Upon request, forms authorizing donation of the body to science will be mailed to you. After the returned documents have been reviewed by the Donated Body Program, you will be sent a donor identification card if you are accepted into the program. It is essential, and a legal requirement, that all paperwork be filled out and mailed to the School of Medicine before we can accept your donation.

Does age, disease, or amputation make the donation unacceptable?

There is no upper age limit for whole body donation. Medical conditions that can prevent acceptance as a donor include: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (AIDS virus), advanced metastatic cancers, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Kuru, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Tuberculosis, Muscular Atrophy and any disease of unknown etiology. Extensive trauma to the body at the time of death, recent surgery, decomposition, autopsy or obesity may also make the remains unsuitable for anatomical study. Individuals under the age of 18 are not accepted into the program. Please be prepared to make alternate arrangements should the body be found unsuitable for donation after death.

Who may serve as a witness to my donation?

Anyone 21 years or older, preferably someone expected to be a survivor, may act as a witness. Two witness signatures are required on our donation forms.

What expenses are involved upon the death of the donor?

Within a 50 mile radius of Davis, California, transport of the body will be provided by the School of Medicine. Outside this area, the next of kin should contact a funeral director or mortuary service to transport the body to this facility at the expense of the family or the donor's estate. UC Davis School of Medicine will bear the cremation cost.

What if the death occurs in another state?

A medical school in the state where death occurred may be contacted for donation.

Will any payment be received for the body?

No payment may be made in connection with a body donation. This policy is in accordance with State laws, and all institutions accepting human remains must comply with it.

If a bequest is made, and the donor has a change of mind later, can the gift be rescinded?

Yes, if the request is made in writing by the donor.

What is the procedure upon the death of the donor?

The next of kin or executor should notify the UC Davis School of Medicine at (916) 734-9560.


Many thanks to the folks at the UCSF Willed Body Program for their help in putting this page together.