Can I or my family get paid for my body donation to science?

This is a question that seems to come up every now and then, especially on the internet in blog discussions and other community posting sites. Before we take a look at the legal answers to this question, the question itself lends itself to one perspective on the subject.

According to, the term “donate” is defined as:

Spelled [doh-neyt, doh-neyt] verb, -nat·ed, -nat·ing. verb (used with object)

To present as a gift, grant, or contribution; make a donation of, as to a fund or cause.

When an individual makes a choice to donate organs for transplant or donate their body to science, this is a gift or contribution back to society. When asked why this decision was made, the answer often is people want to give back and help others after they are gone.  The idea of financially benefiting from this type of donation takes away from the altruistic spirit of the act. Beyond the fact that donation gives people a feeling of empowerment and can also give peace of mind.

At MedCure, our whole body donation program can provide great benefit to the family after a loved one passes. Upon acceptance, we cover all the costs related to the donation process; including cremation and return the cremated remains to family in a heart shaped urn or a scattering at sea.  For many of our donor’s families this is a relief – taking some of the burden off them during a difficult time.

With that aside, what are the legal aspects of receiving payment for a donation? The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act passed in 1968 defines the answer:

“Anatomical gift means a donation of all or part of a human body to take effect after the donor’s death for the purpose of transplantation, therapy, research, or education."

This Uniform Anatomical Gift Act was created in order to standardize the myriad of practices and procedures related to organ and tissue donation (anatomical gifts) and to make certain that donations have specific protocol to follow in order to ensure they are done in an ethical manner.

The act states clearly that it is a felony for a person to financially gain from the sale of “parts” (anatomical gifts).  So the answer to whether someone can get paid for their donation is no.  An excerpt from the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act stating this is below:



Some revisions and additions have been made (1987, 2006), yet this is still the basic law that was put into effect 1968. The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act along with the National Organ Transplant Act passed in 1984 are the only laws that govern organ and tissue donations.


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