Frequently Asked Questions

Who may make a donation?

  • Anyone 18 years or older.
  • Parents may donate the body of a minor child.

Will the school accept my donation if my next of kin objects?

The Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences prefers not to accept your donated body if your next of kin objects. Therefore, a potential donor should discuss his or her plans thoroughly before returning the completed consent forms.

Will the Medical School accept the donation after removal of organs or eyes?

Because the program requires the intact body for its studies, bodies with organs donated or upon whom autopsies have been performed cannot be accepted. The program, however, encourages your consideration of a donation of your eyes because this will not interfere with our studies. We will be happy to include an eye donor brochure along with our consent forms if you request one.

What arragements need to be made?

You need to fill out the Declaration of Consent form. This form can be obtained by either calling the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences at 829-2912, requesting one online from this web site (Go to online forms request). If you would rather you may choose to print a Declaration and Consent form yourself by going to (Print Declaration & Consent Form). The form which will requires your signature and the signature of two witnesses at least 18 years of age. Notarization will not be required.

  • One copy will be kept by you at home or in a lawyer's office. Due to legal restrictions, safe deposit boxes are not satisfactory. You should give a photocopy to your next of kin, lawyer, and/or physician so that another person is aware of your wishes.
  • You will return the original form, together with a copy of the Emergency Contact Information Form to the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and you will in turn receive a wallet card indicating your registration in the program.
  • Please understand that simply indicating your wishes to be a donor on your automobile license is not an acceptable method of donation. You must also register in our program.

Any inquiries regarding the donor program should be made to 829-2912 or by letter to the address indicated.

Will payment be made for the use of the body?

No. The laws of New York State and all other states specifically prohibit the giving of "anything of value" in return for a bequeathal or donation of organs or bodies. This means that no cash payment can be made to a donor or to survivors.

Can I change my mind after I have donated my body?

You certainly can change your mind, but this request must be made in writing. This letter need not be witnessed or notarized.

What if my name or address is changed?

If you should change your name or address, please notify the Department as soon as possible at 829-2912, by letter to the address indicated below or use the Name / Address Change Request From available on the Forms and Brochures page. A new wallet card will be sent to you in the mail.

Will my body be used for teaching or research?

Most bodies are used to teach medical, dental and allied health students. Some are used for the continuing education program for physicians. Others are used in research programs conducted by the faculty of the State University of New York at Buffalo. A small number of bodies are shared with other teaching institutions within the state who have the need for anatomical material.

How long will it be before my body is used and cremated?

Some bodies may be used immediately and cremated within one or two months after delivery, but most are cremated within 18 months. A few may be held longer for study before cremation.

What happens to my remains?

The remains of all bodies are cremated after our studies are completed. Each donor has a choice of one of three options for interment of his or her ashes. These options are:

  1. Shrine of the Ninth Station of the Cross, Mt. Olivet Cemetery, 4000 Elmwood Avenue, Kenmore, New York 14217, There is no charge for this option.
  2. University Cemetery - The University maintains a burial site on the grounds of the Little White Church at the North (Amherst) Campus of the State University of New York at Buffalo. There is no charge for this option. A memorial service to honor these donors is conducted every eighteen months to two years.
  3. Ashes may be returned to the next of kin or to a friend of the donor or to a cemetery of your choice, provided arrangements have been made with that cemetery ahead of time. The recipient of the ashes will be notified by mail two weeks prior to delivery of the ashes. The ashes are placed in a plastic receptacle inside a cardboard container, wrapped in brown paper, and shipped by "CERTIFIED MAIL" - "RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED."

Final Disposition?

The University will retain all cremains for a period of two years after the date of cremation before final placement in the University Cemetery or Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

What happens at the time of death?

A physician will make the pronouncement of death and will sign the death certificate.

If death occurs at home, your family should contact our office at 829-2912 IMMEDIATELY. If death occurs in a hospital or nursing home, they will contact our office. After verification of records, the school's funeral director will be notified and arrangements for transportation to the medical school will be made. There is no expense unless death occurs outside a 100 mile radius of the school. In that case, your estate will have to pay transportation expenses beyond that 100 mile limit. It is recommended that a donor register with another medical school if he or she will be away from this area for an extended period or permanently.

What are the family's responsibilities?

Arrangements for memorial services, death notice, notification to Social Security, insurance claims, and/or Veteran's Administration are the responsibility of the family and/or friends.

Other information

No charges are made to the donor or next of kin for services offered by the Department except for those bodies which must be brought to the University from outside the 100 mile limit. The University bears the considerable expense of this program as part of its teaching and research responsibilities. 

A number of donors and their families have appreciated this lack of a charge and the savings which relate to this service and have requested information as to how they may contribute further to supporting the research and teaching efforts of the Department. In response, a special fund has been set up in the University at Buffalo Foundation, so that gifts or donations of money may be directed to the Anatomy Department Development Fund.

Family or friends may also wish to honor the memory of the deceased by contributing to the Fund. A check may be made out to the

University at Buffalo Foundation-Account #9333-086126

and sent to the address below, or the donor may choose to include the Department in his or her will. Since the Foundation is a not-for-profit organization, such a contribution is tax deductible.

University at Buffalo Foundation
Box 900  
Buffalo, NY 14226-0900