FAQ: Body donation to science

Donating your body to science has many benefits, including no-cost cremation and leaving a lasting legacy that impacts the future of medicine.
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FAQ body donation to science
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Will it cost me or my family anything when I choose to donate?

Once accepted into the program, Science Care is a no-cost option that includes transportation, cremation, the return of cremated remains and filing of the death certificate. Registration in the Science Care program does not guarantee acceptance.

What does registration do for me?

Registration is not a requirement with Science Care and is not a guarantee. However, it is a great way to share your intent to donate your body to science with your family and loved ones to ensure they fulfill your wish following your passing. If you choose to register with Science Care, you will receive a welcome letter by email along with identification cards to forward to loved ones, who may assist with arrangements following your passing.

What are your exclusions for donation?

Most people meet the criteria for donation with Science Care, including those with cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Certain conditions such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B or C, extremely high or low body mass index (BMI), consent issues, location of residence or passing, legal issues, condition of body at the time of passing, or any inability to place the donation with current medical research or education projects at the time of passing may impact final acceptance in to the Science Care Program, including Science Care’s HOPE® Program.

Is there an age limit?

We have no upper age limit on donation. In fact, our oldest donor was 113 years old. Donors do, however, need to be at least 18 years old to donate to Science Care.

Is Science Care available in my state?

Science Care can facilitate donation from all states in the U.S. except AK, AR, HI, ME, MN, MT, NJ, NM, ND, and OK (due to state specific laws). Donations from outside the United States are currently unavailable. Note: State specific acceptance varies and is adjusted periodically based on the needs of the medical community and any applicable travel restrictions.

How should I write my will or advanced directives if my wish is to donate my body to science?

A simple statement indicating you want your agent to have the ability to authorize body donation to science following death with no restrictions (also known as an anatomical gift), preferably with Science Care is ideal. You should also authorize cremation as the final disposition.

Make sure your paperwork does not state the following:

  • Statement(s) indicating you do not want to donate for medical research or education.
  • Statement(s) indicating you would be opposed to going to an international client.
  • Statement(s) indicating you don’t want to go to a company with a for-profit tax status.

What is the difference between donating through Science Care’s program and the donor symbol on a drivers license?

Organ donation is live transplant to a living person. Donating your body to science is a non-transplant option helping to save countless lives through supporting medical research and education. Typically, a registered organ donor can also donate their body to science.

What is the Science Care HOPE® Program?

Anyone who is under hospice, palliative care, or has been diagnosed with a terminal illness qualifies to be screened for acceptance into our HOPE® Program.

The Science Care HOPE® Program is a no-cost pre-screening program that allows patients, families, and healthcare providers to know if a donor meets current research criteria, giving potential donors and their loved ones peace of mind before the time of passing.

What will happen at the time of passing?

At the time of passing, a loved one or care provider should contact Science Care immediately at (800) 417-3747. Learn more about our process here.

Who is the legal next of kin?

Contact Science Care at (800) 417-3747 and we can help you determine your legal next of kin.

Do I need a death certificate, and what information is on a death certificate?

You'll need to file for a death certificate within several days of death in order to proceed through certain legal processes and final arrangements; learn more in our blog article here. Death certificates contain information about cause of death, the age/address/occupation of the deceased, and more. Learn more in our blog article here.

Can we still have a viewing? Funeral? Open casket?

When donating your body to science through Science Care’s program, cremation is always the final disposition. While a traditional viewing or open casket funeral is not possible, many families have a memorial service either with or without the cremated remains.

Can I specify the type of research I want to donate to?

We are not able to honor directed donation as we cannot guarantee suitability or researcher needs for specific projects at the time of passing. Science Care’s mission is to honor the intent of donation by placing each donor with as many medical or scientific research and training programs as possible.

What is Science Care?

Science Care is the first donate-your-body-to-science program accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB). We link donors who choose to donate their body to science with medical researchers and educators, who help to improve quality of life for all of us.

How many donors on average do you get?

Each year, more than 25,000 people join the Science Care Registry stating their intent to donate their bodies to science.

How do I know Science Care is legitimate?

Science Care is the first donate-your-body-to-science program to be accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks, which sets the ethical standards in non-transplant tissue banking. To earn this accreditation, Science Care went through an intensive screening process and continues to undergo regular audits. As the industry leader, Science Care continues to help establish standards within the industry. Recently, Science Care participated in movements to mandate licensing and accreditation for non-transplant tissue banks in Arizona, Colorado, and Florida.

What does accreditation mean?

For us, we value independent, scientifically-based, third-party accreditation 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 AATB 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.

What is a non-transplant tissue bank?

Non-Transplant Anatomical Donation Organizations, or NADOs, recover human tissue donations which are not intended for transplant into a living patient. Every donation to science has the ability to impact an immeasurable number of lives through advancements in surgical technology, as well as educating and training the medical professionals of tomorrow.

Is Science Care a nonprofit organization?

Science Care takes pride in being a for-profit business focused on positively changing the world. Respect for our donors, their loved ones, and our clients have allowed us to become the leader in the non-transplant tissue banking industry. As the industry leader, we are committed to providing the highest standards of service, reliability, compliance, and ethics. Science Care continues to build the most robust no-cost donor program in the world, with six locations nationwide.

Who do you work with? Who are your clients?

Science Care’s clients include top pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, renowned educational institutions, and healthcare organizations large and small, focused on improving patient outcomes and advancing medicine.

How does Science Care make money?

Science Care operates on a fee-based system in which we are reimbursed by clients for the services associated with the donation process. This allows us to offer our donation services to donors and families at no cost.

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