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 far better 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 benefit from 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 in educating physicians and researchers to help our patients of tomorrow.
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, and your family should be notified of your desire to donate. Personal information should be updated (change of address, phone number, etc.) by contacting our office.
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 handle the necessary paperwork regarding the death certificate.
Frequently Asked Questions
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. Donor forms will not be accepted if not signed by the donor themselves in the presence of a notary.
Saint Louis University School of Medicine reserves the right to refuse donations or decline to make use of a body 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 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.
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.
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.
The body will be prepared for use by the Center for Anatomical Science and Education and will be cremated following the completion of studies.
The ashes or cremains of bodies donated to SLU are commingled and buried at Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery 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. Families are welcome to visit the gravesite at any time. SLU's plot is 39A within the cemetery.
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.