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Human Body Donor Program

Human Body Donor Program

Support medical education and research by donating your body to a medical school

The generous donation of human bodies and tissues to the Human Body Donor Program enables critically important health sciences education and research activities to occur at Queen’s University. Without this important gift, our education of future health-care professionals and researchers would be much less rich. Thus, even after the death of a loved one, many donors and their families are making a very personal and special contribution to the progress of medical science, and to the training of professionals in health-related disciplines.

If you are thinking about donating your body to Queen’s University, this webpage outlines the procedures involved. A great deal of coordination is necessary at the time of death involving many people – the family or executor, clergy, physician, the Human Body Donor Program in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Queen’s University, and others. The process can be simplified if your intention to donate your body has been recorded and some simple paperwork completed.

Procedures for Donation of a Body

Arrangements to donate may be made in any one or more of the following three methods:

  1. By writing to the Human Body Donor Program, Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Botterell Hall, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6. One copy of the form entitled ‘The Anatomy Act – Province of Ontario’ should be completed and mailed. Only completion of Part 1 is required to indicate your intention to donate your body. The second copy should be retained for your records and if possible, this information should be accessible to your next-of-kin or executor or
  2. You may wish to include a statement in your Will to authorize the donation. For example: ‘Upon my death, I direct that my body, if acceptable and needed for anatomical studies and medical research, be delivered to the Human Body Donor Program in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences at Queen’s University (or to the nearest Medical School)’.
  3. It is not usually possible to have the Will read within a reasonable period, so we strongly advise that, if possible and appropriate to your individual circumstance, you discuss your wishes with your next-of-kin, executor or any other person who is likely to be in charge at the time of your death. You may also wish to consult with your clergy or other appropriate person to discuss any religious wishes. Prior consideration of this matter is usually very helpful to the family and friends in arranging a memorial service without the presence of the body, should you so desire.

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions (PDF).

If you require additional clarification on any of the matters related to the procedures please contact

Respect for Donated Bodies

The entire health sciences community at Queen’s – professors, students and researchers – is fully aware of the special privilege granted to them by those who donate their bodies. We are most grateful for this generous gift.

In the Faculty of Health Sciences, everyone has a sincere obligation to conduct themselves in a professional manner during courses requiring use of human bodies. These donated bodies are treated, at all times, with the utmost respect and dignity.

Arrangements at the Time of Death

Please phone us at 613-533-2600 and follow the instructions provided.

The Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences will determine whether the body can be accepted for the purpose of medical education and research. If acceptable, arrangements for transportation are made by the next-of-kin/executor through a funeral home or cremation service. Although every effort is made to accommodate the wishes of donors, in certain circumstances it is not possible to accept a body. It is important that the donors appreciate that the University may refuse a body. A donated body would need to be received no longer than 48 hours since the time of death.

It is advisable for the donor to make alternate arrangements, in the event that the body is not accepted.

Transportation costs and arrangements are the responsibility of the estate.

Memorial Services

As the donated body must be sent to a medical school without delay, a memorial service may be arranged without the presence of the body in accordance with the wishes of the donor and the next-of-kin.

University Burial Service

Each year in the spring, the University holds a service for those whose bodies have been used for medical and health professional education and research. The donated bodies may be kept for up to three years, following which arrangements are made for either cremation and burial in the Queen’s University plot at Cataraqui Cemetery, Kingston, or for the return of the cremated remains to the family/executor for a private burial. A brief non-denominational service is conducted by the University Chaplain on this occasion. It is the practice of the University to invite the next-of-kin to attend this service unless the University has been otherwise advised at the time of death.

Appropriate records are maintained in a register at the office in the Cataraqui Cemetery and each donor’s remains are identified and kept separate. All expenses for the cremation and burial are covered by the University.

Anatomical Memorial Trust Fund

The University appreciates financial help towards the costs of the annual burial arrangements and maintenance of the burial site, as well as any donations towards anatomical education and research. A trust fund has been established at Queen’s University to facilitate donations.

Donation of Tissues and Organs

Many individuals wish to donate their kidneys, heart, or other organs and tissues to those in need of transplants. For additional information on tissue and organ donations, please contact:

The Trillium Gift of Life Network
Suite 900-522 University Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
M5G 1W7
Tel:  1.800.263.2833

These beautiful learning opportunities have taught us about personal and humanistic values, namely respect, selflessness, empathy, compassion, and mortality. In every experience we have with the donors, my classmates and I are constantly reminded about the altruistic decisions that they made to be here, and we recognize how privileged we are to work with and learn from them.

Keira Parr