Frequently Asked Questions About Body Donation
Learn more about how body donation works to benefit donor families and the medical community.
Most people who want to donate are eligible. MedCure has no upper age limits and accepts donors with many different medical conditions. The most common reasons for a declined donation include:
• a diagnosis of certain communicable diseases, such as HIV/AIDS or hepatitis B or C
• history of intravenous (IV) drug use
• recent prolonged incarceration, institutionalization, or homelessness
• being severely over or under weight at the time of passing.
MedCure accepts donors across the continental United States, excluding only New Jersey, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Arkansas.
Only individuals on hospice care or close to passing need to call MedCure directly to become whole body donors. However, Donation Coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions about the registration and donation processes.
If you are already a registered organ donor, you can still register to be a whole body donor. At the time of passing, priority will be given to transplant donation because of the ability to immediately save or change a life. In a few cases, MedCure can arrange for a donor to give to both a transplant program and MedCure’s whole body donation program. These decisions are made by a MedCure lab manager on a case-by-case basis at the time of passing. The one exception is eye or cornea donation, which never prevents whole body donation.
Once a MedCure donor is accepted for final transportation, all donation-related expenses will be covered. This includes:
• transportation arrangements
• one certified copy of the death certificate
• return of the cremated remains or a scattering at sea.
At the time of passing, MedCure will complete an eligibility screening. If a donor qualifies for the program, we will make arrangements for the donor to be picked up by a local funeral home at our expense. Once final acceptance is determined, MedCure will transfer the donor to our facility and will cover all transportation expenses. Donor families are encouraged to not contact a funeral home themselves at the time of passing.
Families usually receive the death certificate within 4 to 6 weeks, depending on which county or state is processing the death certificate. Cremated remains are sent to the family approximately 8 to 12 weeks after the time of passing.
Unfortunately, MedCure cannot guarantee it will match a donation with a specific organization or area of research. Placement largely depends on current medical research and training needs at the time of one’s passing. Families can request a letter from MedCure that provides general information about how their loved one’s donation helped to advance medical science.
Since MedCure is a for-profit organization, we can’t accept financial donations. However, we are pleased to have partnered with Consano, a non-profit organization that allows you to donate directly to a medical research project that matters to you. You can donate to any project currently listed on their website, or you can create a memorial fund for your loved one, and Consano will find a research project on your behalf to donate the money to.
Open casket funerals are not possible with whole body donation. However, many families choose to hold a memorial service after they receive cremated remains.
MedCure can provide donor families with a letter containing general information about the types of research and/or educational programs to which their loved one’s donation has contributed. Since there is no autopsy performed as part of the donation process, these letters cannot provide information regarding diagnoses or cause of death.
It does take some time for us to gather all of this information from the researchers and educators that we work with, so please be advised that this letter can take up to 12 months to be sent to the family. If a donor family is interested in receiving this letter, they can call our Donation Coordination team any time after their loved one’s passing to request it over the phone.
MedCure is not licensed to provide obituary assistance. Instead, try contacting the Obituaries department of your local newspaper. The staff there can help you write your notice and provide information on the submission process. They will also know of any legal requirements in your state. If a family chooses to mention MedCure in an obituary, they should not represent MedCure as a licensed funeral provider. Avoid phrases such as, “Arrangements by MedCure” or, “Cremation provided by MedCure.” An appropriate reference would be, “Whole body donation made through MedCure.”
While we can’t help with an official obituary, we do have a donor memorial page on our website. Families can submit a story about their loved one along with a picture so that they can be honored on our memorial page.