University of Nebraska Medical Center

Deeded Body Program

The study of human anatomy constitutes an indispensable part of medical education and research.

Deeded bodies are used to teach anatomy and surgical procedures to medical and dental students, postgraduate physicians, physician assistants, physical therapists, occupational therapists and students in related disciplines.

Who May Donate

Any competent person over 18 years of age may donate his or her body for medical education and research.

How One May Donate

The Nebraska Anatomical Board requires that a Certificate of Bequeathal be on file prior to the donor's death. The Board will provide the legal forms which require only a few items of information, the donor's signature, and the signatures of two witnesses. A brief medical history form must also be completed and returned to the department with the original completed Bequeathal. Following receipt of these documents the Board will acknowledge acceptance of the bequeathal, review the information, and issue an identification card if the applicant meets the necessary criteria. By law, a medical college may not purchase any human body.

Bequeathal Form (PDF) 

When Death Occurs

At the time of death, the person in charge of the donor's affairs may select and notify a funeral director or contact the Nebraska Anatomical Board at 402-559-6249. If desired, visitation and a traditional funeral service may be held prior to the transfer to Omaha. If there will be a delay of more than eight hours because of funeral service, distance, weather, etc. embalming may be necessary. The funeral director's professional service fees must be borne by the family or the estate.

When a Donor's Gift Cannot Be Accepted

Occasionally, a problem may exist which would interfere with the intended use of a donor's gift for education and research. Such problems may include autopsy or trauma, the presence of a certain highly contagious disease, or a body mass index less than 19 or greater than 30, which would prevent the optimal use of the gift. In such an instance, the next of kin or the person in charge of the donor's affairs, if known to us, will be informed and other options for final disposition will be discussed.

When Studies Are Completed

When studies are completed, usually one and one-half to two years, the Nebraska Anatomical Board will comply with the wishes of the next of kin or person responsible for the donor's affairs regarding final disposition. Options available include: the return of the cremated remains in a plastic urn to a designated receiver at the expense of the University which received the donor (any subsequent expenses will be borne by the family or estate). Or, interment of the cremated remains in a University grave at the expense of the University which received the donation. A Memorial Service is held once each year and the next-of-kin, or person in charge of the donor's affair, is notified if they wish and invited to attend. This person may then notify other family members and friends.

If the cremated remains of a donor are not claimed by the family within one year following the completion of studies, they will be interred at the next Memorial Service.