Gift Body Program

Saint Louis University’s Gift Body Program is committed to excellence in research and education. The study of human anatomy has long been and continues to be essential to training physicians, physical therapists and other health science professionals.

The gift of one's body allows students of all educational levels to learn and understand the complexity of humans in a far better manner than books or computer programs. From undergraduates taking gross anatomy for the first time to practicing physicians developing or learning new techniques, a broad range of students are given the opportunity to learn from the body itself.

Thank you for considering the gift of your remains to the Gift Body Program as the need is great. Your gift will be valued and honored and will play a critical role educating physicians and researchers to help our patients of tomorrow.

Gift of Body Contact Form

Becoming a Gift of Body Donor

You can request gift body donor forms from SLU’s Center for Anatomical Science and Education by calling 314-977-8027.

You will be sent two sets of forms with an instruction sheet. The forms must be completed and signed in the presence of a notary public. The form marked "Return to Saint Louis University" must be returned to the Center for Anatomical Science and Education and include your original signature and the original stamp/seal and signature of the notary. A wallet card with instructions will be sent after acceptance into the program.

The second copy of the gift form should be kept with your personal files. Following completion of the forms and informing your family of your desire, there is nothing more to be done until death.

At the time of death, the Center for Anatomical Science and Education should be contacted to verify the donation. Your family should present your signed donation forms to a funeral home director or a transporting company official. They, in turn, deliver the unembalmed body with the proper papers to the Center for Anatomical Science and Education of Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Please note that this transportation is the only expense paid by your family or estate. The funeral director or transport company will take care of the necessary paperwork regarding the death certificate.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can a body be donated to SLU?

Any individual who is at least 18 years of age can become a gift body donor by signing our forms in the presence of a notary.

Are all bodies accepted by the gift body program?  

Saint Louis University School of Medicine reserves the right to refuse donations depending upon the condition of the body and/or the needs of the institution.

Bodies with a communicable disease, infections or isolation precautions such as HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis, MRSA, ORSA, VRE or C. diff which have not been arrested before death will not be accepted under any circumstances. Other reasons we may be unable to accept the donation of a body at the time of death include, but are not limited to, circumstances involving amputations, autopsy or organ donation, major trauma due to accidents or suicide, or morbid obesity (in general, females who exceed 200 pounds and males who exceed 250 pounds).

Gift body donors should have alternative contingency plans in the event Saint Louis University School of Medicine is unable to accept the donation of your body.

What if I change my mind?
The intent to be a gift body donor may be revoked at any time. You must state in writing that you no longer wish to be a donor. You will receive the revoked form by return mail.
What if my family disagrees with my wishes to donate after I die?

The Gift Body Program encourages all donors to share their wish for whole body donation with their family members. However, if the next of kin does not wish to carry out the donor's wishes, the Gift Body Program will usually abide.

Can my body be donated if it is autopsied?
 

If the question of an autopsy arises, your family should understand that permission must be received from the Center for Anatomical Science and Education, unless the autopsy is required by a legal authority. Many valuable things are learned from an autopsy but the basic teaching of the organization of the human body is best learned from the careful study of the unautopsied body.

Can my body still be donated If my organs are acceptable for transplant to a living individual?
 No. Organs (other than eyes) may not be removed for transplant.
What costs are involved?
The only expense that the family or estate incurs when you donate your body to SLU is the transportation by a funeral director or transporting company. It is suggested that inquiry about the charges for transportation be made prior to authorizing delivery. The University pays no expenses. 
What happens to the body?

The body will be prepared for use by the Center for Anatomical Science and Education and will be cremated following the completion of studies.

 
What happens to the ashes? Can my family have them returned for burial?
 

The ashes or cremains of bodies donated to SLU are commingled and buried at Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery located at 7030 Gravois in the City of St. Louis. The ashes are buried during a service conducted by the medical school’s campus minister and attended by faculty and staff of the Center for Anatomical Science and Education. There is a common grave marker at the site with the following inscription: "Saint Louis University and its students gratefully acknowledge the charity of those buried here who gave their remains for the advancement of medical science." No cremains are returned to the family. Your family will be given directions to the grave site upon request.

What happens if I die away from the St. Louis metropolitan area?
If a gift body donor dies outside of the St. Louis metropolitan area, the same policies hold as if the death occurred in the St. Louis area. The Center for Anatomical Science and Education must be contacted by the funeral home outside of St. Louis for proper procedures. If the family does not want to donate to Saint Louis University because of the distance and costs, the program director may be able to recommend another medical school with a similar gift body program.
Can there be a funeral service with the body present if my body is donated to Saint Louis University?
Following death, the body needs to be transported to the medical school as soon as possible for proper preparation. Therefore, the body cannot be present at a funeral or memorial service. All donors and families are encouraged to have a memorial service, depending upon their own faith and beliefs, shortly after the death.

Annual Memorial Service

Each fall, a memorial service in thanksgiving for gift body donors is held on the campus of Saint Louis University. It is organized by first-year medical students with assistance from faculty and the medical school’s campus minister.

The names of the current donors are placed in a basket and covered with flowers. Following the service, students place the flowers at the gravesite.

The past year’s donors are also remembered each fall during SLU’s Feast of All Souls service at Saint Francis Xavier College Church.