BODY DONATION

Importance of Body Donations

There is a need for human bodies for use in medical education and research in North Carolina. Until the 1970's this need was met through a combination of donated and unclaimed bodies. With the development of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and continued growth of the paramedical profession, there has been an increased need for cadaver material. The majority of bodies now used must be acquired through individual bequeathal or through donation of the body of a deceased relative by the surviving next of kin.

The donation of human remains for medical education and research is provided by state Statute 90.220.190.220.9. In eastern North Carolina, the Regional Representative of the North Carolina Commission of Anatomy is the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, which supervises the anatomical donation program.

Return to top of page


Forms & Decision for Donations

You may obtain a declaration of donation form and donor information sheet by:
  • Calling The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University at 252-744-2843.
  • Writing to the address below.
  • Downloading the forms onto your computer:

Fill out the Declaration of Donation form and sign it in the presence of two witnesses. Witnesses must be adults who may be members of your family or friends. Notarization is not required. Mail the original copy of the Declaration of Donation form (along with the Donor Data form) to:

Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology
The Brody School of Medicine
East Carolina University
Greenville, NC 27834

Give one copy to your legal next of kin, keep a second copy with your valuable papers, and mail a third copy to your family physician.

You may, at any time, revise or revoke your donation. Completing a donation form does not, in any way, comprise a contract. It is only a statement of the your wishes and intentions. You should notify the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, in writing if possible, if you wish to change anything.

It is a very good idea to inform your relatives of the decision to donate your body. It is the policy of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University not to accept a donated body if the nearest living relative objects. Next of kin are the legal custodians of a deceased relative's body. You are therefore encouraged to make your donation known to your family, close friends, minister, and attorney. If you have a Will, you should include a statement regarding the donation. However, the best way to have your wishes honored is to carry your donor card at all times and to inform your legal next of kin of your wishes.

Return to top of page


Suitability of Donations

There are certain factors/conditions that may render the body unacceptable for an anatomical donation and some of these may not be obvious until the time of death. Examples of such factors/conditions that may invalidate an anatomical donation include:

  1. the presence of certain infectious diseases by the deceased.
  2. an autopsy on the deceased.
  3. the presence of a major constriction or amputation of the limbs.
  4. the weight of the deceased (taking into consideration the height and stature of the individual, the weight limit is approximately 170-180 pounds).

The Brody School of Medicine, through its Curator of Anatomical Materials or another designee, reserves the right to decline the donation at the time of death. Therefore, we strongly suggest that you have alternate plans for disposition of your body in the event it is not accepted by the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University.

Should death occur outside the eastern part of the state or at such a distance that it would not be practical for this medical center to transport the body back to the Brody School of Medicine in Greenville, several alternatives exist:

  • The body may be returned to ECU at the expense of the family or estate for use by this medical school.
  • The body may be offered to the medical school nearest the place of death.
  • The body may be cremated with or without services, but with legal preparation and handling at the expense of the family or estate.
  • The body may undergo required preparation, with or without services, and be buried in another state, at the expense of the family or estate.

If you move outside the state of North Carolina, you should consider revoking your donation here and making a new donation to a medical school in your new state. Similar programs exist throughout the United States.

Return to top of page


Procedures at Time of Death

The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University should be called immediately.

Weekdays, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
252-744-2843

After 5:00 pm weekdays and on weekends
252-744-2246

Survivors will be advised of the procedures to be followed. If your survivors call a funeral director, he should be advised of your donation.

Return to top of page


Expenses for Donations

Your family or estate are not charged for expenses, such as final disposition, in the donations of bodies. The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University will assume certain expenses incurred prior to and after the arrival of the body at the medical center. Examples of such expenses would be as follows:

  • First, should the body be embalmed by a mortician, the University will pay all reasonable requests for this service in accordance with the Commission of Anatomy cost guidelines.
  • Second, the cost of transportation to the University from within the eastern part of the state will be paid by the Brody School of Medicine. The University will not bear expenses for special memorial services desired by the individual or their family.
  • Finally, the Brody School of Medicine will pay for the costs of cremation and interment. If the family chooses, a family member or designee may arrange a time to come to the Brody School of Medicine and retrieve the cremated remains at their expense. Donors or their families are encouraged to offset expenses incurred by the Brody School of Medicine by donating an amount equivalent to all or part of the costs of the ECU Medical Foundation.

You, your family, or your estate are not paid for the use of your body. The laws of North Carolina specifically prohibit the giving of anything of value in return for donations of organs or bodies. This means that no cash payment may be made to a donor or to survivors.

Return to top of page


Use & Disposition of Donations

The donated body will be used under the combined supervision of the faculty at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and the Commission of Anatomy of the State of North Carolina. All users are required to treat bodies with the utmost respect and to keep them under secure conditions. The major use of bodies is in the training of doctors, nurses, and students in the allied health professions.

At the conclusion of studies utilizing the body, East Carolina University supervises the cremation of the body by a licensed crematorium. The final disposition of the cremains will be either individual interment at a local cemetery in Greenville or retrieval by a family member or designee (which will require the signing of a release document). Although the names of the donors are not placed on a marker, there is a monument signifying the resting place and generous sacrifice of the donors interred at the site.

Return to top of page


Organ & Tissue Donations

You may, if you wish, donate your eyes, kidneys, or other vital organs to organizations such as the Eye Bank, the Kidney Foundation, or other related organizations, but that must be accomplished as a separate act. The Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology of the Brody School of Medicine is not responsible for coordinating such donations.

In considering organ donations, you should bear in mind that removal must occur very shortly after death in order for such donations to be successful. On the other hand, donation of your entire body will be successful and make a useful contribution under almost all conditions of death. The Regional Representative of the North Carolina Commission of Anatomy will determine if bodies from which organs have been removed are useful for anatomical studies. If the body is unusable, the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University may refuse to accept the donation, and, in such case, the next of kin or the estate would be responsible for the final disposition of the body and the expenses incurred. Therefore, we advise that alternative arrangements should be considered in the event that the donation is declined.

Return to top of page


Contact Information

If you still have questions concerning donation of your body for medical science, please contact:
Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology
The Brody School of Medicine
at East Carolina University
Greenville, North Carolina 27834
Phone: 252-744-2843
Fax: 252-744-2850
Email: powersj@ecu.edu

Return to top of page