This section of our website was designed for those who might be considering body donation.
Body donation is a growing trend with the families we serve. Donating a body gives the family a unique way to support medical advancement which has the potential of benefitting generations to come. With this in mind we have collected the following information to help guide interested families. We are of course always available to answer any questions you may (416) 487-9697.
An Introduction to Whole Body Donation to Schools of Anatomy in Ontario
It is the final wish of many to bequeath their bodies for anatomical studies and medical research. This final wish is a unique contribution to the advancement of medicine and student learning. In recognition of this wish, The Trillium Gift of Life Network Act and the Anatomy Act allow for such bequeathals, provided that there is no objection by the next-of-kin or executor at the time of death. The Donation process is supervised and regulated by the Chief Coroner of Ontario.
Individuals who bequeath their bodies to a School of Anatomy are assured that all human remains are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. Students preparing themselves for medical and allied health professions as well as practicing professionals are fully aware of the special privilege granted to them by both law and obligation they have to conduct themselves in a professional manner during their studies.
How to Arrange the Donation of your Body
If it is your wish to bequeath your body to a School of Anatomy, it is important your next of kin or executor is made aware of your wishes. Another suggestion is to include a statement in your Will such as:
“Upon my death, I direct that my body, if acceptable and needed for anatomical studies and medical research, be delivered to the _____________________ (nearest Medical School).”
Writing such a statement in a Will, however, does not ensure that your wishes will be carried out. All Schools of Anatomy have Donation Consent Forms readily available – these forms can be filled out, kept on file and when the time of passing occurs your next of kin or executor would contact the appropriate individual/transportation service. Contact your local School of Anatomy for further information and procedure to acquire the Anatomy Act Consent Form.
If, at the time of death, Part I of the Anatomy Act Consent Form has not been signed, the wishes of the deceased can still be honoured. The next of kin or executor can complete Part II of the Consent Form on behalf of the donor. That being said, an individual’s next of kin or executor can alter an individual’s wishes at the time of death even if it is stipulated in a Will and a Consent Form is submitted. It is the responsibility of the donor to ensure that he/she has discussed his/her wishes with their next of kin/executor and both parties understand the steps involved with Body Donation.
Who Can Donate their Body?
Body Donation is open to anyone. There is no upper age restriction for body donation but there are however illnesses/disease, causes of death, BMI (Body Mass Index) and other factors that determine an individual’s suitability. The suitability for acceptance can only be determined at the time of death. Schools of Anatomy reserve the right to refuse a body, but all efforts to determine suitability takes place as quickly as possible, prior to the transfer of the body to the School of Anatomy. It is always in the best interest of the next of kin/executor to have alternate arrangements made with a local funeral establishment in the event of refusal.
Can someone be an Organ Donor and Whole-Body Donor?
If a person wishes to donate their body to a School of Anatomy, only their eyes can be donated as a tissue gift for transplant. For the purposes of study, Schools of Anatomy require a donor’s body to be “intact”. For further information on organ donation, please contact Trillium Gift of Life Network at 416-921-1130 or toll-free at 1-800-263-2833.
At the time of Death…
Upon a potential donor’s death, a physician or coroner must issue a Medical Certificate of Death. The next of kin or executor must then contact the School of Anatomy directly, or the transportation agency that works on the school’s behalf immediately. Once, and if, the body of the donor is accepted, the School of Anatomy/transportation agency will transport the body from the place of death to their facility. Transportation costs (including any additional mileage) are usually the responsibility of the estate. These costs usually include all the necessary documentation for the Province and disbursements. In return, the next of kin/executor will receive 8-12 Proof of Death Certificates which assist in the finalization of all estate matters. Contact your local School of Anatomy for further information on transportation costs/procedures as each school varies.
After the Donation has taken place…
A donated body can remain in the care of a School of Anatomy anywhere between a few months to 5 years. In certain cases, with the consent of the next of kin or executor, portions of a body may be kept indefinitely. Once cremation takes place, a cost usually incurred by the School of Anatomy, the cremated remains can be picked up by the next-of-kin or executor for private burial or the option to be interred in the School of Anatomy’s communal plot can be exercised. The remains of each donor are kept separate and identifiable. Most Schools of Anatomy will commemorate their donors at a Service of Gratitude/Memorial Service where Faculty, Staff and Students pay their respects to the families and friends who attend. Contact your local School of Anatomy to find out if this is something they do as some may not.
Most Common Reasons for Refusal:
Autopsy or Trauma
More than 24hrs have elapsed since the time of death without refrigeration, or longer than 72hrs in refrigeration
Degenerative neurological diseases:
Septicemia (“blood poisoning”)
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
Recent major surgery (within six weeks prior to death)
Extreme emaciation/Excessive Obesity:
BMI screening in effect for majority of Schools of Anatomy
Schools of Anatomy in Ontario
Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College
Telephone: 905-525-9140 ext. 22273
University of Ottawa
University of Guelph
Telephone: 519-824-4120 ext. 56171
University of Toronto
University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario Telephone: 519-661-3014
University of Waterloo
Telephone: 519-888-4567 ext. 33717
Northern Ontario School of Medicine
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning
In the event that you choose body donation please contact the institute of your choice to get the process started. If, however, body donation is not for you and you would like to make other dignified, affordable arrangements, we can help with that too. Simply call (416) 487-9697 our licensed staff will be happy to assist you.