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 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, and Alzheimer’s disease 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.
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. Science Care will always try to honor the generous gift of donation, however, if we are unable to place your loved one in a program the family would then be responsible to make arrangements for cremation or burial with a funeral home or crematory of their choice.
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.
Science Care can facilitate donation 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.
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.
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.
Upon determining that an individual matches current research criteria, Science Care pays all costs associated with donation. This includes free cremation, transportation from the place of passing, filing of the death certificate, and return of the cremated remains (if requested) within 3-5 weeks.
To order certified death certificates, please visit VitalChek.
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 (AZ, CA, DE, CO, FL, NV, PA & TX).
Go here to complete the online registry form.
After joining, you will receive an email with registration cards that you can print out. Please note that we no longer mail out cards. We ask that you inform your family or those responsible for your arrangements about your wish to donate as they are likely the ones to call Science Care either at your entry onto hospice care or at the time of passing.
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.
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.
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.
It may be surprising to some to learn that with only a few exceptions all of the major religions affirm and celebrate organ and tissue donation. Here is a list of what major religions say about organ and tissue donation.
Religious Viewpoints on Organ and Tissue Donation
With only a few exceptions all of the major religions affirm and celebrate organ and tissue donation. Words like caring, sharing, compassion, and sacrifice are at the heart of most religions. Organ and tissue donation is generally considered to be the ultimate humanitarian act of benevolence.
Assembly of God
While the church has no official policy on organ and tissue donation, the denomination has been highly supportive of donation in the past. However, the decision to donate is left to each individual.
Donation is supported as an act of charity; the decision to donate up to the individual.
Buddhists believe the donation of organ and tissue is a matter of individual conscience and place high value on acts of compassion. Reverend Gyomay, President and Founder of the Buddhist Temple of Chicago says, “We honor those people who donate their bodies and organs to the advancement of medical science and to saving lives.”
Catholics view organ/tissue donation as an act of charity and love. Transplants are morally and ethically tolerable to the Vatican. Pope John Paul II called upon Catholics and people of good faith everywhere to move from a “culture of death” toward a celebration and reflection of the glory of God in a “culture of life.”
The Church of Christ Scientist does not have an explicit position; the question of organ and tissue donation is an individual decision. Christian Scientists normally rely on spiritual means of healing instead of medical. They are free, however, to choose whatever form of medical treatment they desire—including a transplant.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons)
The donation of organs and tissues is a selfless act that often results in great benefit to individuals with medical conditions. The decision to will or donate one’s own body organs or tissue for medical purposes, or the decision to authorize the transplant of organs or tissue from a deceased family member, is made by the individual or the deceased member’s family. The decision to receive a donated organ should be made after receiving medical counsel and confirmation through prayer.
Church of the Nazarene
The Church encourages members who do not object personally to support donor and recipient anatomical gifts through living wills and trusts. Additionally, the Church appeals for morally and ethically fair distribution of organs to those eligible to receive them.
The Episcopal Church now recognizes the life-giving benefits of organ, blood, and tissue donation. All Christians are encouraged to become donors “as part of their ministry to others in the name of Christ, who gave his life that we may have life in its fullness.”
Hindus are not prohibited from donation as confirmed by religious laws. This act is an individual’s decision. Nothing in the Hindu religion indicates that human tissue and organs cannot be used to ease the affliction of other humans.
Islams strongly believe in the principle of saving human lives. The majorities of Muslim scholars, belonging to various schools of Islamic law have called upon the principle of saving human lives and have permitted organ transplant for the same reason.
Jehovah Witnesses believe donation is a matter of individual decision. However, there are limitations pertaining to blood transfusion. Jehovah Witnesses are often presumed to be opposed to donation because of their belief against blood transfusion. This only means
all blood must be removed from the organs and tissues before being transplanted. It would not be tolerable, though, for an organ donor to receive blood as part of the organ recovery process.
All four branches (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist) support and encourage donation.
Lutherans believe donation contributes to the well-being of humanity and can be “an expression of sacrificial love for a neighbor in need.” They call on “members to consider donating organs and to make any necessary family and legal arrangements, including the use of a signed donor card.”
Mennonites have no official position on donation, but are not opposed to it. They believe the decision to donate is up to the individual and/or their family.
Pentecostals believe the decision to donate should be left up to the individual.
Presbyterians encourage and support donation. They respect the right to make decisions for their own body.
Because of the many different Protestant denominations, a generalized statement on their attitudes toward organ/tissue donation cannot be made. However, the denominations share a common belief in the New Testament. (Luke 6:38 Give to others and God will give to you.) The Protestant faith respects individual conscience and a person’s right to make decisions regarding his or her own body. It is also generally not
believed that resurrection involves making the physical body whole again.
Donation and transplantation are strongly encouraged by Seventh-Day Adventists. They have many transplant hospitals, including Loma Linda in California.
In Shinto, the dead body is considered to be impure and dangerous, and thus quite powerful. Families are often concerned that they not injure the itai – the relationship between the dead person and the bereaved people.
Unitarian Universalists affirms the natural worth and dignity of every person and respect the interdependent web of all existence. They state the value of organ and tissue donation, but leave the decision to each individual.
Organ and tissue donation is to be encouraged, assuming appropriate safeguards against hastening death and determination of death by reliable criteria. United Methodist recognize the life-giving benefits of organ and tissue donors by signing and carrying cards or driver’s licenses, attesting to their commitment of such organs upon their death, to those in need, as part of their ministry to others in the name of Christ, who gave his life that we might have life in its fullness.
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.
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 recovery, testing, processing, preservation, final disposition, quality control, storage and transportation of human tissue.
For us, we value independent, scientifically based, third-party accreditation by the American Association of Tissue Banks. Science Care is the first whole body donor program to be accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB). Accreditation with the AATB follows an intensive nine-month process, and establishes that the level and consistency of medical, technical and administrative performance meets or exceeds the standards set by the AATB. This process of regular, external and internal auditing of all Science Care processes and systems helps to shine a bright light on all of our operations to ensure we uphold the highest standards of dignity, quality and safety.
Organizations accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks are recognized as the leaders in their field (both transplant and non-transplant tissue banks) and as pivotal voices in the dialogue through which consensus-based, voluntary standards are developed and implemented.
There is not an upper age limit on donation at this time. Donors need to be at least 18 in order to join the Science Care donor registry.