Anatomical Gift FAQ

This unique and priceless gift of the human body provides for knowledge that is the foundation of medical education and research. Donor cadavers are used to teach medical and other health science students the relationship between the systems and structures of the human body. Donated bodies are also used for research such as developing new hip and knee prostheses.
As you consider the option of donating your body to science, know that the need is great, and your gift will be valued and honored.

Any person 19 years of age or older as governed by An Act Respecting Human Tissues and the Disposition of Human Bodies cited as Human Tissue Act (1971). Consent to donate is 100% acceptable, however final decision on acceptance or rejection of a potential donor can only be made by the Manager of Medical Laboratories at the time of death.

No. The Human Tissue Act (1971) specifically prohibits paying persons for human bodies or internal organs.

No expenses are incurred by the family. Memorial University of Newfoundland bears all cost associated with the administration of the Anatomical Gift Program. Limits do apply.

If death occurs at one's home, nursing home, or in a hospital without a morgue, after the next of kin contacts Memorial University, a local funeral home will be contacted to pick up the remains and deliver them to the Anatomy Unit at the Faculty of Medicine. Under certain circumstances, if death occurs in a hospital with an in-house morgue, the body may simply be placed in the morgue. It must be noted that the acceptance of a donation is at the complete discretion of the institution, and if a body is not accepted, the donor's estate is responsible for the final disposition of remains. It is very important for the legal next-of-kin to contact the manager of medical laboratories immediately. After hours, urgent contact details (24/7) can be found by calling 709-864-3360. A voice mail will tell you the phone number to call after hours.


Yes. There are a few cases in which bodies cannot be accepted for donation: if the body has been severely traumatized in an accident; if a highly contagious disease such as hepatitis is present; if the body is more than moderately overweight or severely underweight; if the body is severely deformed; if cancer has progressed to the level of severely damaging internal organs; or if the body has been autopsied. Each individual case is unique and several questions will be asked to determine if a body is acceptable or not. It is at the decision of the manager to determine if a body able to be accepted at the time of death.

Yes. This program has no association with the Organ Procurement Programs – this program deals specifically with donating the ENTIRE BODY. For information on the Organ Procurement Program please address enquiries to (709) 777-6600.

No, because the procedures involved in removal of such organs are extensive enough to interrupt the blood vessels in such a fashion that it is not possible to achieve the type of embalming necessary for future anatomical studies.

Studies can take up to four years, after which the body will be cremated or buried at the request of the donor or donor's next of kin. Because of the length of time since the individual's death, Memorial University suggests cremation. The cremated remains will be returned to the family upon request and interred in a family plot, otherwise, the ashes will be interred by Memorial University.

You may indicate your wish to donate your body by contacting the Manager of the Anatomical Gift Program, Memorial University of Newfoundland at:
Telephone: 709-864-3360
FAX: 709-864-4987

Postal address
Faculty of Medicine, Rm. 2830A, HSC, St. John's, NL, A1B 3V6

Hours of Operation
Monday to Friday 8:00 am to 4:00 pm (Fall & Winter)
8:30 am to 4:00 pm (Summer)


Once you have made contact a donor information package will be forwarded to you and all questions answered prior to your enrollment as a potential donor.
You may specify your intentions to donate your remains to science in your Last Will and Testament. This Will should be prepared by an attorney and you should let your next of kin and other close family members know your wishes.
How are decisions made regarding acceptance or rejection of a potential donor?
Many factors are considered at the time of death of the potential donor, such as the cause of death of the individual, issues of space at our institution, the need for cadavers at the time of passing, as well as many other issues. It is always important as part of your final pre-planning arrangements, that you and your family are fully aware that enrollment in the anatomical gift program is not a guaranteed acceptance at the time of death.

Yes, at any time by contacting Memorial University’s Anatomical Gift Program office.

Your enrollment relieves your next of kin of the burden of making a decision of this magnitude under the handicap of grief. Your donation protects both your survivors and Anatomical Gift Program at Memorial University, and greatly simplifies the procedure at the time of death.