Body donation is the donation of the whole body after death for medical research and education. Body donation is necessary to understanding the human body and for advancing science. Institutions that take such donations use whole, bodies to teach anatomy to medical students. Some institutions accept embalmed bodies and some do not, potential donors must ask before proceeding.
Other organizations use body parts for surgical and research purposes.
Most medical schools will cremate and inter or scatter ashes of cadavers at the completion of studies, usually two or three years after donation. Ashes are interred at a school facility or a local cemetery or are scattered in a nearby ocean. This is done at the school's expense. If specifically requested and if correct addressing information is provided, some institutions will return a body or ashes to family. Disposition and costs then become the family's responsibility.
Persons wishing to donate their bodies to medical schools may be required to make arrangements before death with the school or a company that facilitates body donation for research facilities.
Body donation is legally available with the consent of the individual prior to death or with the legal next of kin after death.
Body or body parts donation is not regulated through licensing or inspection by the federal government or most states. The legal right for an individual to choose body donation is governed by the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, which has been largely adopted by most states. Laws relating to the transportation and disposition of human bodies apply.