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

What is Science Care?

Science Care is the first donate-your-body-to-science program accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks. 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.

Are you a non-profit organization?

Science Care takes pride in being a for-profit business focused on compliance, ethics, and continuous improvement. Our passion for compliance and ethics resulted in Science Care being the first non-transplant tissue bank accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks, and it continues to drive the most robust infrastructure in the industry. Respect for our donors, their loved ones, and our clients have allowed us to become the leader in an industry helping to positively change the world.

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 is the 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. Science Care’s HOPE® Program is a no-cost program allowing patients, families, and healthcare providers to know if a donor meets current research criteria, giving potential donors and their loved ones peace of mind when it’s needed most.

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, COVID-19 (symptoms, exposure, or diagnosis), 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.

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.

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.

Is there an age limit?

Anyone over the age of 18 years old should consider themselves a potential donor.

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.

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.

Is Science Care available in my state?

Science Care can facilitate donation from all states in the U.S. except AK, AR, HI, MN, NJ, 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.

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.

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.

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.

What is the difference between donating through Science Care’s program and the donor symbol on the 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.