Anatomical Donation Program | Body Donation

A Timeless Gift....

The examination of the dead to gain knowledge of the living body was first practiced extensively in ancient Egypt. Except for the period known as the Dark Ages, this practice has not changed. Today an important part of the training of new physicians, dentists and medical professionals is the examination, dissection and study of the human anatomy.

Each new generation of students studies the structure of the human body to understand how it functions and to learn how the normal function is altered by disease.  This knowledge is used by physicians, dentists and other health care professionals in treating or preventing illness.

Many people have donated their bodies to the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University realizing that the knowledge gained by scientific study benefits thousands of patients.  People have expressed in letters the satisfaction they feel in helping others in this way.  Through the years, the Body Donation Program at Augusta University has been the beneficiary of donations by people from all walks of life and from many communities in Georgia and South Carolina.

The information in this section is provided to help you decide if you want to contribute to health care education by personal donation.

This section is dedicated to body donors for their lasting contribution to the medical sciences and to mankind.

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Augusta University Body Donation Program is regulated by the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act. The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act has been adopted by all 50 states and can be summarized as follows:

  • Any individual of sound mind and at least 18 years of age may give his or her body to medical science. There is no maximum age limit for those who wish to donate. The gift takes effect at the time of death – not upon signature.
  • Bequeathal of the decedent’s body can also be made by next of kin after consultation with the Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy at Augusta University.

Augusta University is currently accepting new donations from the states of Georgia and South Carolina.

To begin the process to donate your body to the Medical College of Georgia you must complete an application (link below). Please make sure to complete the form providing all of the requested information and obtaining the signatures of two witnesses. We also request that you write a brief medical history on the reverse side of the Donation Form describing any events that you think may have influenced your health, and fill in the information concerning the disposition of your cremains or ashes. Make a copy for your records and a copy to give to the person responsible for your body at the time of your death then return the original form to our office to process.

When we receive the completed form we will register you in the program and mail you a letter acknowledging that you have registered. Enclosed will be a card that identifies you as a registered body donor and provides the contact information to report your death. This card should be carried at all times.

Augusta University recommends that you read the information carefully and discuss your wishes to donate your body with your next of kin or the individual who will be legally responsible for your body at the time of your death. It is important that they understand and will abide by your wishes. If this is something that you would like to do, then complete the application to become registered in our donation program. Donation by Last Will and Testament is not recommended as burial often precedes the reading of the Last Will and Testament.

We cannot guarantee in advance, prior to your death, if you will be accepted for donation. If the donation is not accepted your family will need to make private burial arrangements.

At the time of the donor’s death, the person legally responsible for making final arrangements should contact the Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy as soon as possible following your death to determine if Augusta University can accept the donation and for instructions.

  • During normal working hours (Monday through Friday, 7:30 AM- 5 PM) the contact number is 706-721-3731.
  • If death should occur at another time, contact Augusta University operator at 706-721-8400. The operator will contact the department.

Although almost all donations are gratefully accepted, there are restrictions on the acceptance of a donation. Acceptance or refusal of a body will be made at the time of death and not at the time of registration.

A body cannot be accepted if any of the following conditions are present:

  • Augusta University cannot accept an autopsied body or one that is embalmed by a funeral home or one that is unsuitable for education and research
  • Persons under the age of 18.
  • A body found dead in excess of four hours
  • A body refrigerated in excess of four days Death by suicide.
  • Death by severe trauma, such as death by drowning, burning, homicide, or motor vehicle accident.
  • A body with a contagious disease, such as, Hepatitis, Sepsis, TB, HIV+, MRSA, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease(CJD), Clostridium difficile (C-Diff) or Carbapenem-resistant Entero­bacteriaceae (CRE).
  • A body that is jaundiced due to liver, pancreatic or kidney failure.
  • A body with visible lesions (for example, bed sores).
  • Obesity (weight in excess of 250 lbs.) or cachexia (weight less than 70 lbs.)
  • A body having major surgery less than 3 months prior to death.
  • A body having total amputation of one or more limbs.
  • The decedent is not registered with the Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy at Augusta University.

The Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy reserves the right to refuse any body, which, in the opinion of the Department, cannot be used for education.

You must have a contingency plan for disposition of your body in the event that Augusta University cannot accept your donation.

Augusta University will handle the processing of the death certificate and will forward to the attending physician for signature. Processing of the paperwork for the certified death certificate usually takes up to two-three weeks. Certified copies of a death certificate are available only at the Vital Records Facility in the County where the death occurred.

The survivors of the donor are responsible for writing and placing an obituary in the newspaper. The staff of the newspaper may be able to assist you in preparing the notice. Charges for the obituary are paid by the family of the donor.

The length of study cannot be determined in advance at the time of donation, but can range from a few months up to three years. All donations are considered extremely valuable and a gift beyond measure. The length of study depends entirely upon what type of study for which the body is used. Early return of the cremains cannot be requested.

The Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy requires that after the donor’s body has completed studies, the remains will be cremated individually. Cremation is permitted in Christian and Reformed Jewish faiths. If you need additional information about your religion’s views on body donation or cremation, it is suggested that you contact your Pastor, Minister, Priest or Rabbi. After cremation your ashes will either be returned to your family, per prior arrangements, or buried in the Cinerarium on the Augusta University campus.

Once a year, a non-denominational interment service is held at Augusta University Cinerarium. At that time, Augusta University will bury the ashes of the body donors. The service is conducted by the schools’ chaplains, faculty and students and may be attended by the donor’s family and friends.

Expenses for burial or disposition of a donor’s ashes after their return are the responsibility of the family or estate. After 2 years, unclaimed cremated remains will be interred at the annual memorial service. If the family members prefer not to have their loved ones cremains buried in the Cinerarium (rather in a private location) they should indicate on the donation form or contact the program.

Augusta University does not pay for body donations; this policy is standard throughout the United States under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act. However, embalming and cremation are provided by the program.

For deaths occurring at home or for donors using Assisted Services (Hospice, Nursing Homes, and Assisted Living), it will be the family’s responsibility to be prepared to have the donor transported to a local funeral home or hospital with mortuary refrigeration as soon as the donation acceptance has been made. You can call Augusta University and we will be glad to assist with these arrangements prior to the death. Once the body is picked up by our program for transport to Augusta University, the cost of transportation will be paid by us.

Augusta University will not accept charges for funerals, memorial services, counseling, etc. The cost for transportation of donors registered to another Institution and accepted by Augusta University or not registered with Augusta University will be paid by the decedent’s family or estate.

Individuals must be pre-registered with the Anatomical/Body Donation Program To Become a Body Donor:

Download a Body Donation Form

Complete the form with your information and signature, plus the signatures of two witnesses, then mail the form to:

Coordinator of the Anatomical Donation Program
Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy Augusta University

1120 15th Street, CB1101
Augusta, GA 30912-9974

If you have questions or need case specific information, please call us. Our normal working hours are Monday through Friday, 7:30 AM until 5:00 PM. The contact number is 706-721-3731. If you wish to call after hours, on the weekend, or on a holiday please call 706-721-8400.

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Cellular Biology and Anatomy

706-721-3731 Office

706-721-6120 Fax

706-721-8400 Office (after hours)

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