Anatomical Gifts Program


People may wish to bequeath their body for anatomical studies. Anatomical gifts are used for teaching courses in human anatomy to medical, dental and allied health professional students. The courses introduce students to the anatomical terminology that is used in medical practice. They also familiarize students with anatomical relationships in the body that are essential for understanding the progression and treatment of human diseases.

Anatomical donations are regarded by the medical community as precious gifts to medical education. Donors and their families can be assured their contribution is greatly appreciated by both students and faculty. All anatomical donations are treated with utmost respect.

How to Arrange the Donation of Your Body

People who wish to donate their body may include a statement to this effect in their wills. Such a statement in a will, however, may not ensure that their wishes are followed because burial or cremation often takes place before the will is read.

Should you decide to donate your body, please contact our Anatomical Gifts Program Manager, Mr. Jason Papirny at (780) 492-2203 or email in the Division of Anatomy for information, a Donor Registration Form and Donor Card. We recommend keeping your Donor Card next to your health care insurance card so it may be found readily.

The Program does not accept a body without the consent of the next-of-kin, executor, or other person lawfully in charge of your body at the time of death. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you discuss your wishes with your family and friends. As the time factor is crucial for donations your next-of-kin or the person lawfully in charge of your body must be in a position to act immediately following your death. It is also wise to inform your physician, lawyer and funeral director of your wishes. You may wish to consult your clergyman to clarify the views of your faith about this act of dedication. Such consultation will enable him or her to guide your family at the time of death and to arrange a memorial service without the presence of the body, should this be your desire.

At the Time of Death

Your next-of-kin, executor, the person lawfully in charge of your body or hospital staff should notify the Division of Anatomy at the University of Alberta at (780) 492-2203.

If the body is acceptable for anatomical studies the Division will make the necessary arrangements for transportation of the donor. However, out of city transportation costs will be the responsibility of the family or estate. Although each registered donor is normally accepted, THE DIVISION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO DECLINE ANY ANATOMICAL DONATION. In the event that the body cannot be used for anatomical studies, alternate plans will have to be made with a funeral home by the next-of-kin, executor, or the person lawfully in charge of the body.

Memorial Services

A formal funeral service is not possible when a body is donated because the unembalmed body must be sent without delay to the University. If a service is desired, it is strongly recommended that it take the form of a memorial service without the presence of the body.

Upon completion of medical education, faculty and students organize an annual commemorative service in which family members and friends of the donors are invited to attend.

University Burial Site

Following anatomical study (usually one to two years after receipt of the body), the cremated remains are interred in the University of Alberta's burial site at Westlawn Memorial Gardens, which the family may visit. Westlawn's telephone number is 780.489-1602, located at 16419 Stony Plain Road in Edmonton. No grave markers are permitted in this section of the cemetery because of agreements concerning perpetual care. The site is marked by a single stone which bears the inscription shown in the image to the right.

Individual name plaques are available and may be purchased by contacting the Westlawn Memorial Gardens Cemetary Office. Family requests for return of the remains following anatomical study will be honored IF REQUESTED AT THE TIME OF DONATION. This will be at the expense of the family or estate. The Division does not cremate remains for return to the family

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