Procedures at Time of Death

Upon the death of a pre-registered donor, please call our 24-hour donation line at 1.844.366.9633 as soon as possible. In most cases we must receive the body within 24 hours of death, so do not hesitate to contact us. Please leave a message and a representative of the Body Donation Program will return your call and complete a short screening to determine whether the donor can be accepted into the program.

Occasionally, a donor's illness, the location of the body, or other considerations prevents us from being able to accept a donation. Our representative makes this determination during the initial phone call and informs you in the event alternate arrangements are needed.

If the death occurs within 50 miles of WMed, we will arrange for a licensed transporter to retrieve the donor. If the death occurs more than 50 miles from WMed, we ask the family to make arrangements for transport through a funeral home of their choosing.

Criteria for Acceptance

An individual who is at least 18 years of age may make an anatomical gift to the WMed Body Donation Program.

There is no upper age limit for the Body Donation Program. However, at the time of death, the following conditions may preclude a body donation:

  • Height greater than 6'1"
  • Weight greater than 200 lbs. or obesity greater than 30 BMI
  • Contagious disease (HIV, TB, VRE, Hepatitis B/C/D, MRSA, C. difficile)
  • Death requiring an autopsy
  • Other unsuitable conditions

We encourage individuals enrolled in the Body Donation Program to have alternate arrangements in the rare case that their body cannot be accepted at the time of death. If the individual is registered as a Forever Donation to be retained in the WMed Skeletal Research Collection, the above criteria may not apply.

Death Certificates

The process of completing and filing the death certificate can take one to two weeks. Filing the death certificate and securing the burial-transit permit is performed by a funeral director working with the WMed Body Donation Program. WMed does not provide copies of death certificates. Certified copies of the death certificate may be obtained at either the city or county clerk's office in the area where the death occurred between a week and two weeks after the date of death.

Gift of Life Donors

You can be registered for both Gift of Life organ donation and WMed Body Donation. Gift of Life has no age limit for organ donation; assessments are made on a case-by-case basis. If organ donation occurs, the WMed Body Donation program is happy to also accept you as a Forever Donation to be retained in the WMed Skeletal Research Collection. To ensure that your wishes are met at the time of death, please visit the Michigan Peace of Mind registry and complete an Advance Directive. In this advance directive, include how you would like your body handled upon death. For example, explain whether organ donation or full body donation should be a priority. This will provide important information to Gift of Life about your preferences. If you have additional questions, please contact us at 844.366.9633 or visit Gift of Life's website or contact Gift of Life at 1.866.500.5801.

Revoke Your Donation

Registering for the program indicates your intent to be a donor. However, it is not irreversible. Occasionally, after registering, a donor wishes to withdraw from the program. If you change your mind, simply notify us in writing and we will remove you from our registration list. It is important to tell your family and caregivers your wishes - they are the ones who must know whether to contact us upon your death. After your death, decisions regarding the donation of your remains are made by the person who has legal authority over your affairs.

A signed letter stating the revocation of the donor should be sent to the Body Donation Program, Department of Pathology. An oral statement made in the presence of two witnesses and communicated to the Body Donation Program is also acceptable.

If at the time of death the family wishes to make other funeral arrangements, the medical school will comply with the wishes of the family.