Science Care is a whole body donation program for medical research and education. We link people who want to donate their body to science with medical researchers and educators who are using human tissue to improve healthcare for future generations. As an alternative to traditional burial or cremation, there is no cost to the donation program, which includes cost-free cremation, transportation, filing of the death certificate, and return of the cremated remains in 3-5 weeks. Pre-registration is not required to donate. Science Care donors contribute to a variety of medical research and educational projects such as research on cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s as well as training doctors on the latest devices and techniques. The family receives a letter after donation detailing current research and educational projects, and a tree is planted in honor of the donor at the one-year donation anniversary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can donate?
A: Many people meet criteria for donation, including people with cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes. Please note that the final determination if an individual matches current research criteria is based on medical and suitability factors at the time of passing, in order to honor the intent of donation and safely serve the needs of the medical community. Exclusions may include contagious diseases, extreme obesity, and extensive orthopedic surgeries.
If an individual is under hospice care, we can do a special medical screening prior to passing to determine if they match current research criteria through our HOPE Program: A Guarantee for Hospice Patients.
Many people on our registry also set up alternate arrangements. These arrangements can be as simple as letting your family or friends know if you would like burial or cremation, and if there is a specific funeral home you would like them to work with, in case donation does not happen.
Is Science Care available in my state?
Who benefits from whole body donation?
A: Science Care’s program contributes to new breakthroughs and developments in medicine, including advanced physician training, neurological research and the latest prescription drug therapies. The organizations using donated tissue include universities, government agencies, corporate or private medical institutions.
Click here to see a few of the areas in which Science Care has made a contribution to medical research and training.
Click here to read some in-depth articles about how Science Care donors are making a difference in medicine.
What will happen at the time of passing?
A: At the time of passing, call Science Care at 800.417.3747. A trained, compassionate Family Services professional will assist the next of kin through the donation process, which includes answering a medical and social history questionnaire to determine if the potential donor meets current research criteria, coordinating transportation, signing any necessary authorization forms, and verifying information for the death certificate. Click here for a typical donation timeline.
What is the cost to my family?
A: Upon determining that an individual matches current research criteria, Science Care pays all costs associated with donation: transportation from the place of passing, filing of the death certificate, cremation, and return of the cremated remains (if requested) within 3-5 weeks.
To order certified death certificates, please visit VitalChek.
How do I join the Science Care registry?
A: While pre-registration is not required, by planning in advance you can help eliminate confusion about your wishes. Individuals can join the Science Care registry of potential donors anytime after age 18 in approved states.
There are two options to join the Science Care donor registry:
1. Complete the online registry form:
2. If you would like us to send you a Registration Brochure in the mail, call us at 800.417.3747 or fill out this request form.
After joining, you will receive a Welcome Packet with personalized ID cards in the mail. We ask that you inform your family or those responsible for your arrangements about your wish to donate.
Who is the legal next of kin?
A: The closest relatives, as defined by state law, of a deceased person. Most states recognize the spouse and the nearest blood relatives as next of kin. Contact Science Care at 800.417.3747 and we can help you determine your legal next of kin.
We strongly advise that you discuss your wishes with your legal next of kin, as they will be involved in the donation process once passing occurs.
Will donating interfere with funeral arrangements?
A: Whole body donation would prohibit a traditional open casket funeral. However, many families choose to have a memorial service prior to or after receiving the cremated remains.
What if I’m in another state when death occurs?
A: Upon acceptance, Science Care will work with professional transport services and licensed funeral homes to transport the donor to Science Care.
Science Care currently facilitates donations from all states in the U.S. except MN and NJ (due to state specific laws). Donations from outside the United States are currently unavailable.
What does religion say about donation?
Can I specify the research I donate to?
A: Science Care will make every reasonable effort to place tissue with the appropriate research institutions to be used in the specific research requested; however, no guarantees can be made as to the results that may be obtained.
Do you charge researchers/permit tissue brokering?
A: Science Care is a fee-based service organization. Science Care adheres to all federal and state legal requirements through the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, which prohibits the buying and selling of human organs and tissue.
Science Care charges reasonable fees for services provided to the medical research and educational community for the removal, processing, disposal, preservation, quality control, storage and transportation of human tissue.
What does accreditation mean?
A: Science Care is the first whole body donor program to be accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB). Accreditation follows an intensive nine-month process, and establishes that the level of medical, technical and administrative performance meets or exceeds the standards set by the AATB.
AATB-accredited organizations are recognized as the leaders in their field and as pivotal voices in the dialogue through which consensus-based, voluntary standards are developed and implemented.
Is there an age limit?
If you have a question not answered in the FAQ’s, please contact us anytime via phone (800.417.3747) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.