WHO CAN DONATE THEIR BODY TO THE WILLED BODY PROGRAM?
Any person 18 years of age or older who is competent to make end of life decisions can enroll in the program. There is no upper age limit.
HOW WILL MY BODY BE USED?
Donated bodies are used to teach and train medical, nursing, and allied health students in educational research and outreach programs to promote public health and interest in healthcare careers. Most donated bodies are used for anatomical study at Washington State University. Some bodies are loaned to other area colleges and universities to support health sciences education but are returned to our program after use.
ARE THERE ETHICAL STANDARDS IN THE USE OF MY BODY IN YOUR PROGRAM?
Yes. The body is always treated with dignity and respect. Only authorized students and staff have access to the body, and they are trained to follow the highest standards of professionalism.
MAY I STILL HAVE A FUNERAL?
Since it is necessary to obtain the body as soon as possible after death, this precludes a funeral service with your body present. Of course, the family may still arrange a memorial service.
WHAT HAPPENS TO MY BODY AFTER YOUR STUDIES ARE COMPLETED?
Our studies are usually completed in one to five years. After that time, the next of kin are notified and the body is cremated. Cremation is the only option for disposition of donated bodies. The program pays for cremation and all bodies are cremated individually.
A Final Disposition Form is included with the original donation paperwork. There are two options for final disposition arrangements:
- Burial of the cremated remains in the College of Medicine Community Gravesite at Greenwood Cemetery in Palouse, Washington.
- Return of the cremated remains to the residence of the legal next of kin.
Indicate your wishes on the Final Disposition Form when you return your paperwork and advise your next of kin of your wishes. You or your next of kin may change arrangements by contacting our office.
There is no cost to the family for burial in Greenwood Cemetery in Palouse, Washington, or return of the cremated remains to the legal next of kin. The WSU Willed Body Program conducts an annual donor memorial service for the donors who are interred at Greenwood Cemetery. Family and friends are welcome to attend. If the family wishes to have the name of the donor placed on a memorial stone at the cemetery, the family must pay this cost. Inquiries about the memorial stone can be directed to Mark Kramer, Kramer Funeral Home, at 509-878-1221.
Forms to Complete
- Anatomical Gift Form
This form gives consent for whole body donation to the WSU Willed Body Program. The form requires signatures from the donor and two witnesses.
- Personal and Contact Information Form
This form provides our program with contact information for you and your next of kin.
- Medical History Form
Provide your health history information including current health problems, past health issues and any surgeries you have had
- Final Disposition Form
Select one of two options for the final disposition of the donor’s cremated remains after our anatomical studies are completed.
To Request Printed Copies of the Necessary Forms, Call or Write:
Willed Body Program
WSU Health Sciences Spokane
PBS Building, 12
412 E. Spokane Falls Blvd.
Spokane, WA 99202-2131
Delivering Your Forms
Please send the original completed forms to our office and make copies for yourself, your family, your physician, and others who need to be informed about your final arrangements. After we receive your completed paperwork, we will send you an identification card to be carried with you.
MAY I DONATE ORGANS AT THE TIME OF DEATH AND STILL BE ABLE TO DONATE MY BODY?
No, unless only corneas are donated. Our program is a whole body program. You may be registered with our program and an organ donation program simultaneously. Our paperwork is not binding and does not take precedence over organ donation. However, if you or your next of kin choose to donate your organs (other than corneas) upon your death, then whole body donation is not possible, and we will decline your donation.
ARE THERE ANY COSTS INVOLVED IN DONATING MY BODY?
The Willed Body Program pays for the routine costs associated with donating a body, which are substantial. These include:
- Burial of cremated remains in our program’s community gravesite in Palouse, Washington, or return of the cremated remains to the legal next of kin
- Transportation of the body if it is within a 30-mile radius of the WSU College of Medicine in Spokane. This includes transporting the body to our embalmers in Spokane and delivery of the body to the college. The college works with a private company or a funeral home for transportation services.
If death occurs outside of a 30-mile radius of the WSU College of Medicine in Spokane, our program still pays for most routine donation costs (embalming, cremation, disposition of cremated remains), but cannot pay for any transportation costs or the costs of any services provided by a funeral home in the area where the death occurs (including transportation and storage). This is especially important to note if the death takes place at a distance from Spokane because it may be necessary to have a local funeral home or transportation service in your area make the first response. All transportation costs, regardless of the service provider, are not covered by the WSU Willed Body Program if the death occurs outside of a 30-mile radius of Spokane. The donor’s family, estate, or funeral insurance would need to assume the above costs, as a contribution to medical education.
The WSU Willed Body Program does not prepare death certificates and does not provide copies of a death certificate. Death certificates are prepared by funeral homes. For a fee, copies can be obtained by contacting the funeral home. Please call our office if you have questions.
WILL I OR MY SURVIVORS BE PAID FOR MY DONATION?
No. The sale of bodies or body parts is prohibited by law. Bequeathal of a body is a selfless gift made in the spirit of advancing science and learning. Washington State University does not profit from the use of donated bodies.
HOW IS THE PROGRAM CONTACTED AFTER MY DEATH?
Your next of kin or healthcare provider should contact the WSU Willed Body Program at 509-368-6600 as soon as possible within 24 hours of your death. If it is after hours, they will be directed to another number. The caller will be asked about the cause of death and the condition of the body, and a decision will then be made to accept or decline the donation.
WILL THE PROGRAM ACCEPT A BODY WITHOUT THE DONOR BEING PRE-REGISTERED?
We prefer to have a donor’s paperwork on file before accepting a donation because it simplifies the procedures involved at the time of death. However, for those not pre-registered, we may accept donations made at the time of death by someone who is legally authorized and of legal age to do so.
CAN I SELECT A LOCAL FUNERAL HOME TO EMBALM MY BODY?
No. Special procedures are used that are different from normal embalming. The Willed Body Program works with a funeral home in our area to provide this service.
WOULD IT BE POSSIBLE FOR MY FAMILY TO RECEIVE A REPORT OF MEDICAL FINDINGS OR DISEASE CONDITIONS?
No. Our program does not provide any reports concerning the cause of death or the discovery of any medical conditions.
DOES THE PROGRAM GUARANTEE THAT MY BODY WILL BE ACCEPTED?
No. It is important to understand that filing paperwork with our program is not a contract and does not guarantee acceptance. The decision to accept or decline a body can only be made at the time of death since the cause of death or condition of the body may render the body unsuitable for use by our program. Budget limitations and lack of space in our program may also restrict our ability to accept donations. These situations are uncommon, but they do occur. To prevent misunderstandings and disappointment after your death, we urge you to have alternate arrangements in place and clearly explained to your family in the event that your donation is declined by the program.
WHAT CONDITIONS OR SITUATIONS WOULD PREVENT THE PROGRAM FROM ACCEPTING MY BODY?
The acceptance of a body donation is made on a case-by-case basis at the time of death, and the program reserves the right to decline a donation. Reasons why the donation may be declined include, but are not limited to:
- Autopsy of the body
- Possession of the body by law in a coroner or medical examiner’s office
- Severe injury or trauma, such as drowning, burns, or motor vehicle accident
- Contagious diseases, such as hepatitis, TB, active herpes, HIV, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
- Open wounds and skin ulcerations, including recent major surgeries
- Decomposition of the body—embalming or refrigeration is necessary soon after death
- Previous embalming (embalming for anatomical study requires special techniques)
- Advanced cancers that distort the anatomy (example: advanced pancreatic cancer)
- Excessive obesity or emaciation (Body Mass Index below 18 or above 30)
- Organ or tissue donation, except for corneas
- Ruptured aneurysm (e.g., aorta, brain)
- Budget or space restrictions in our program
- Dissent by family members over the donation
HOW IS MY BODY TRANSPORTED TO THE WILLED BODY PROGRAM?
- If the body is within a 30-mile radius from the WSU College of Medicine in Spokane, a transport service will normally make the first response at the time of death and transport the body directly to the embalming facility.
- If the body is outside of a 30-mile radius from the WSU College of Medicine, it may be necessary to have a funeral home or transportation service in your area make the first response at the time of death. In these circumstances, depending on where the death occurs, the body is stored temporarily at a funeral home or transported directly to our funeral directors in Spokane. In either case, our program cannot pay for these costs, and they are the responsibility of the family or estate (see the FAQ above: Are there any costs involved in donating my body?).
WHAT IF I LIVE IN WESTERN WASHINGTON, SOUTHERN IDAHO, OR EASTERN OREGON?
Since donations offered from these locations require long-distance transportation, arrangements would need to be made with a local funeral home in your area or with a transport service. Your next of kin or estate would be responsible for the costs involved with removal, storage, and transportation of the body to our funeral directors.
WHAT IF I DIE IN ANOTHER STATE OUTSIDE THE NORTHWEST OR IN ANOTHER COUNTRY?
Your next of kin should contact a donation program in that state or country.
WHAT IF I CHANGE MY MIND ABOUT DONATION?
The donation forms are not binding documents, only statements of your wishes after death. You may revoke or revise the forms at any time by contacting our office.