Donating your body to science lets you contribute altruistically to medical advancements at the end of your life. By authorizing your body to be used for research after death, you will be helping to further surgical device research and development, advanced disease-based research, and hands-on bio skills training.

Real human tissue is the most helpful material for those studying the body. Medical professionals and students benefit from tissue that allows them to develop and practice their skills.

Your generous whole-body donation may contribute to the following types of medical programs:

  •       Doctor training
  •       Surgeon training
  •       Medical device training and development
  •       Medicine research and development

United Tissue Network is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that has been accredited by The American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB). Please read ahead to continue learning about pledging your body or that of a passing or passed loved one through UTN.

What Does It Mean to Donate a Body to Science?

 a younger person holding the hand of an older person

You may have heard about donating your body to medical research before but never known what it really meant.

When you authorize your body to be given to science after your death, or when you do this for a family member who has just passed, you’re allowing an organization such as United Tissue Network to pick up the body and transfer it to a school or other medical-research organization.

There are many benefits to donating your body to medical research and examination.

Students and researchers use the body for training and educational purposes. These groups get more use out of real cadavers than body models. Real bodies also allow students and surgeons to test new medical devices so they can ideally be used one day on living patients.

When the researchers are finished with their training, UTN facilitates the cremation of the remains and their return to the surviving family. With us, it all comes at no cost to you.

Donating your body to science provides a selfless gift to the medical community, which will use it to advance science that can help everyone.

How to Donate My Body to Science: The UTN Registration Process

If you’re wondering how to donate your body through UTN, we’re here to help.

UTN has a set of processes for donating your body. We follow slightly different protocols depending on who you are and when in your life you are registering.

Our “S.E.T.” Program consists of the following stages:

  • Self-Registration – For healthy individuals who would like their bodies donated at the point of their death. We call this a pledge process. 
  • End of life Registration– For individuals at the end of their lives and who are currently in hospice care. We call this the pre-approval process. 
  • Time of passing Registration – For individuals who have just passed. Family members or hospice workers complete this registration.

For all donors, a consent form is required to donate your body. The donor and family will be supplied with information about policies and procedures that will take place after the potential donor is deceased.

You can access all the appropriate registration forms on the right sidebar of this page.

a man in a checkered shirt sitting at the table with a cup of coffee signing a document

At this point, you may have a question:

What are the criteria for donating your body to science?

The fact is, different whole-body-donation facilities employ different criteria for accepting bodies.

As a nonprofit, UTN has a wider range of acceptance criteria compared to for-profit organizations. This includes upper ages, BMIs, cancers, dementias, and much more. The only automatic disqualifiers are a history of communicable diseases, such as HIV or hepatitis. All you have to do is to authorize your body to be donated to science and to be cremated afterward.

UTN collects the medical-social histories of its potential donors and tests the bodies before transferring them to any medical groups. We always need to make sure that the researchers we work with are safe and ultimately have rewarding experiences with the donations we give them.

However, please know that we do not provide the researchers with any personally identifiable information with the body donations.

Donors and their families will be pleased to know that UTN handles all expenses related to donating a body to science, including:

  • Receiving the body from the location of its passing
  • Transferring the body to a UTN facility
  • Providing the family with two certified death certificates
  • Cremating the remains

Note that body donation is not the same as organ donation. You can still donate your organs as a body donor. UTN works with organ-donation groups in our areas to allow all usable organs to find patients who need transplants.

At this time, United Tissue Network accepts bodies only in the states of Arizona and Florida. Individuals older than 18 can register to donate their bodies at any time. There is no upper age limit.

We’d like to take this time to address several other questions that may be of interest to those considering donating their body or that of a loved one to science:

How long do they keep your body when you donate it to science?

When you donate your body to UTN, researchers may use it anywhere from four to six weeks or one to two years, depending on what the surviving family members agree to allow.

How many bodies are donated to science each year?

Body donation is currently a relatively small affair in the United States. Our best estimates are that about 20,000 Americans donate their bodies to science each year.

Donate Your Body to Science with United Tissue Network

If you would like to make the generous gift of your body following your death, or that of a loved one, get in touch with United Tissue Network as soon as possible.

Whether you would like to pledge your body now when you are healthy or register at the end of your life, we are here to help.

You can find the appropriate consent forms on the right side of this page. Please reach out to us if you need assistance with anything. We look forward to helping you to fulfill your wishes.

Ready to pledge yourself or a loved one?

Click the links below to get started:

Pledge Yourself Register A Loved One