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Body donation - your questions answered

Posted on 8 September 2016

Thinking about donating your body to science?

Many people avoid facing up to funeral costs with the statement: “it’s ok, I’m donating my body to medical science”. But what does body donation actually involve, and how easy is it to do?

What is body donation?

It is a formal commitment to have your body given to a medical school when you die, to be used for research, education or for training medics and surgeons.

There’s more to donating your body to science than telling someone to hand you over to a medical school when the time comes. There’s some paperwork involved too.

doctor-in-hospital-corridor-holding-file-and-pen

How do I donate my body to medical science?

  1. Find a medical school in your local area. Donations are only accepted locally due to transport costs. You can search for a school using your postcode
  2. Complete and sign two copies of a consent form, which will also have to be witnessed by a friend, GP, executor or next of kin
  3. Return one form to the medical school
  4. File the other form with your Will or legal papers. You can also update your Will with your wish to donate your body to science
  5. Inform your next of kin and executors, so they know what to do when the time comes. Be prepared to discuss your decision with your loved ones, who may be surprised by your wishes
doctor holding a stethascope
Can I be certain the medical school will accept my body?

No, the medical school could decline your body for a number of reasons:

  • You have had organs removed because you are an organ donor
  • You have undergone a post-mortem examination
  • You have had recent surgery
  • You have an infection which could be transmitted
  • If you have been dead for more than six days
  • Some medical schools may be unable to accept body donations during holiday periods, such as Christmas.

The medical school may want to examine your body before deciding whether to accept it.

two-doctors-and-a-surgeon-comparing-notes
What happens if my body is declined?

If your body isn’t accepted, your loved ones will need to make alternative arrangements. This is an important reason why you shouldn’t see body donation as a way to avoid funeral costs.

Does it cost anything to donate your body to science?

The medical school may ask the deceased person’s estate to contribute to the cost of transporting the body to the school. Contact your local medical school directly to find out what charges, if any, may apply.

What happens when the medical school is finished with my body?

When your body is no longer needed, the medical school will arrange for your body to be cremated. If you wish, your ashes can be returned to your loved ones.

There’s no denying that donating your body to medical science is a fantastic way to leave a lasting legacy. After all, you’ll be helping to train our future doctors and surgeons. But with no guarantees your body will be accepted for use in this way, it doesn’t make sense to see body donation as an alternative to paying for a funeral.

If you’ve found this article interesting and are thinking about what you’d like to happen when you die, our free Perfect Send off planner is a simple way to document and record your wishes. Or for help with what to do when someone dies, use our simple, easy-to follow guide.

SunLife offers a range of straightforward and affordable products including over 50 life insurance, funeral plans, life insurance, pet insurance, ISAs and Will writing services.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife?

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan the funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Limited. Dignity Funerals Limited is a company registered in England and Wales No. 00041598. VAT registered No. 486 6081 14. 4 King Edwards Court, King Edwards Square, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP. Telephone No. 0121 354 1557. Fax No. 0121 355 808. Part of Dignity plc. A British Company. Dignity is not authorised or regulated for this activity by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services. Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides Family Life Insurance?

SunLife Family Life Insurance is provided by Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register (registration number 110002). Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ. 

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.