What Is a Body Donor?

Article Details
  • Written By: Daniel Liden
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 21 January 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article

An individual who has agreed to donate his entire body to an organization such as a university, hospital, or research institute for the purpose of medical research or training is a body donor. A body donor is not the same as an organ donor, as organ donors tend to donate organs for transplantation, while whole-body donation is generally for research and education. Cadavers are, for instance, very useful in medical schools as they give students a hands-on opportunity to learn about human anatomy. Regulations regarding the donation of one's body vary by country. Many people, for religious or other reasons, are quite uncomfortable with the idea of body donation and favor traditional burial or cremation instead.

There are many different ways in which a body donor can help researchers or students. Many people donate their bodies to medical schools or hospitals to give students the chance to better learn human anatomy. Hospitals and medical schools also use donated bodies for surgical training and to test and practice new medical techniques. A body donor may also donate his body to research institutes or hospitals for research purposes. This can be particularly valuable when one has a rare or unknown illness, as it gives researchers the chance to investigate the body in order to learn more about the nature of the condition.


It is almost universally illegal to claim a body for medical use without prior consent from the donating individual or, in some cases, from the next of kin after the individual dies. The specific regulations affecting a body donor vary from country to country. In some cases, body donation is controlled by a government organization, such as the Human Tissue Authority in the United Kingdom. Other countries, such as in the United States, may require that a body donor make arrangements with a particular program, such as a medical school or hospital, in order to donate his body after death. Different countries have different laws regarding the issue of whether or not close relatives can provide consent for body donation after the individual dies.

Though an individual can potentially help many people by becoming a body donor, many people choose not to donate their bodies for a variety of reasons. Some people, for instance, have beliefs regarding the importance of the body after death. They may, therefore, be uncomfortable with the idea of their bodies being dissected for the purpose of educating medical students. Even people without religious beliefs are often concerned with the fate of their bodies after death and may feel that a traditional burial is more dignified.



Discuss this Article

Stacy CA
Post 1

Great article on whole body donation. You covered almost all of the bases and gave a clear explanation of what a body donor is and how the process may vary.

I work for a nationwide whole body donor program that offers individuals an opportunity to donate their bodies to science. These donors contribute to research projects for Alzheimer’s, multiple types of cancer, heart disease, and more. We also train thousands of physicians each year on the latest in medical advancements. For those individuals that meet current research criteria, we provide a no-cost donation including transportation, cremation, and return of the cremated remains within three to five weeks.

We find that many individuals choose whole body donation for themselves or their loved ones as an opportunity to give back to future generations. Whole body donation is an extremely personal decision and anyone interested should do their research and work with an accredited program to carry out their final wishes with dignity.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?