Frequently Asked Questions
What are Missouri Laws concerning gift body donation?
The gift of one's body after death is governed by the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act of the state of Missouri, which became law in 1969. Sections 194.210 to 194.290 of the Missouri Revised Statutes are cited as the act. It has provided uniformity with similar laws of other states.
What should happen when death occurs?
At the time of death, the Center for Anatomical Science and Education should be contacted to verify the donation. The family gives the signed donation forms to a funeral home director or a transporting company official, who in turn deliver the unembalmed body with the proper papers to the Center for Anatomical Science and Education of Saint Louis University School of Medicine.
The transportation to the medical school is the only expense paid by the family or the estate of the donor. It is suggested that inquiry concerning the charges be made prior to authorizing the transportation and delivery. The funeral director or transport company will take care of the necessary paperwork regarding the death certificate.
Who and how does one become a gift body donor?
Any individual who is at least 18 years of age can become a gift body donor under the stated conditions. A donation of another's body may be made after death by an attorney in fact under the durable power of attorney, by the next of kin or by a guardian. This type of donation must be acceptable to the gift body program as determined by its directors.
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 they no longer wish to be a donor. The donor will receive the revoked form by return mail.
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, such as HIV, hepatitis B or C, or tuberculosis which has not been arrested prior to death, will not be accepted under any circumstances.
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 department of anatomy and neurobiology, 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 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.
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's 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 locally. 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.
Is there a memorial service for donors?
Each fall, a memorial service in thanksgiving for the generosity of the donors is held on Saint Louis University's campus. It is organized by the first-year medical students with assistance from faculty and the medical school's campus minister. The names of the current donors are placed in a basket and flowers are placed over the names during the service.
Following the service, the flowers are placed on the grave at the cemetery by the students. Donors from the past year are remembered as part of the Feast of All Souls service at Saint Francis Xavier Church on the main campus. At that service, the University also remember the lives of community members who have died over the previous year, and their families and friends.
To find out more about Saint Louis University's Gift Body Program, call (314) 977-8027.