Gift of Body

Enrollment Procedures

Anyone of sound mind and over the age of eighteen years may enroll to donate his or her body to the program. There is no cost associated with enrollment. The procedure for enrolling in the Gift of Body Program involves completing the donation forms, and sending one original signed copy to the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences (address below). The second copy is to be retained for the donor’s own records. A brief personal history form is also to be completed and sent with the donation form.

If an individual or his/her next of kin wishes to have their cremated remains returned for local disposition, that information should accompany the donation forms returned to our office or should be included in a note to our office at or following the time of death. Any questions concerning the Gift of Body Program should be directed to the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences (see contact information tab). Once an individual enrolls in the program, their records remain on file in the office of the Department of Pathology & Anatomical Sciences.

Completion of the enrollment form does not constitute a contract, but rather an indication of the desire to contribute their body if all conditions are acceptable. If an individual changes his or her decision to participate in the program, written notice to the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences will cause their donation to be canceled and their file will be destroyed at that time. Upon entering the program, donors receive a wallet card that indicates they have enrolled in the Gift of Body Program. After death, family members generally notify the Gift of Body Program, often by calling the number on the wallet card. The contact information on the card matches the contact information below.

Donation Procedures

At the time of death, the person in charge of the donor’s affairs should select and notify a funeral director to arrange transportation to Columbia and any other professional services needed or desired. The funeral director should then contact the Gift of Body Program (see contact information tab) directly to obtain proper transportation protocols. The cost of transportation and the funeral director’s professional service fees must be borne by the family or estate (see donation expenses below).

Donation Expenses

Costs related to donation that must be paid from the estate of the donor or by the next of kin include:

  • Completion and filing of the Missouri Department of Health Certificate of Death by the appropriate authority (hospital or funeral home).
  • Transportation of the body by a funeral home or transport service to Heartland Cremation & Burial Society in Columbia. Heartland Cremation is contracted with the University of Missouri to complete the elbalming process for our donors, therefore the donors will always go there first. Once the embalming is completed the donors will be brought to the University.

Donation Requirements

Due to educational requirements, it is essential that the body be intact at the time of donation. Thus, we cannot accept a body that has been autopsied or from which major organs have been removed for donation after death. We do encourage those wishing to donate their organs to call the Midwest Transplant Network at 1-800-366-6791 or on-line at the MTN Website. One exception involves donation of eyes. A body from which the eyes have been removed will be accepted in our program. All arrangements for eye donation must be made in advance through the proper agency.

In general the only conditions that cause a rejection for a body donation are: (1) body not intact (exception of eye donation), (2) presence of a communicable disease (tuberculosis, AIDS, hepatitis, etc.) or any bacterial infections, (3) Maximum weight of 200lbs which is based on an average height, (4) body not processed in a timely manner following death and (5) any recent surgeries resulting in large incisions that have not completely healed. Occasionally there are times that our program is full and we are unable to accept donors.

If we are unable to honor your donation it will be the family’s responsibilities to make other arrangements. Completion of the enrollment form does not constitute a contract with the University of Missouri, but rather an indication of an individual’s desire to contribute their remains to the MU School of Medicine. Please understand that the final acceptance of a donation is dependent on the body being in a condition suitable for use by our program. Thus, while nearly all bodies donated to the program are accepted, this acceptance cannot be guaranteed. Please make family members aware of this, as it will alleviate distress if your body is not accepted by the program.

A request that is often made by the next-of-kin following donation is that a report be made of the physical condition of the deceased. The only way such a report can be made is by a qualified pathologist following a post-mortem examination of the body. Such a post-mortem exam or autopsy disqualifies a body for use in our program; interested parties may contact the Boone and Callaway Counties Medical Examiner.

Contact Information

For additional information regarding Gift of Body, please feel free to contact:

Laura Johnson, Ph.D., Director
Gift of Body Program
Department of Pathology & Anatomical Sciences
M263 Medical Sciences Building
University of Missouri School of Medicine
One Hospital Drive
Columbia, MO 65212
Shannon Wetzel, Coordinator
Gift of Body Program
Department of Pathology & Anatomical Sciences
M263 Medical Sciences Building
University of Missouri School of Medicine
One Hospital Drive
Columbia, MO 65212

Phone: 573-882-2288

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I enroll into the program?

You can either contact the program administrator at 573-882-2288 or send an email to to request an enrollment packet. Or you can download the forms. There are three forms that should be filled out; Gift of Body, Information for Missouri Death Certificate, and Brief Medical History. Original signed copies should be returned to the main office at the address below:

University of Missouri
Gift of Body Program
M263 Medical Science Building DC055.07
One Hospital Dr.
Columbia, MO 65212

Do the forms need to be notarized?

No, donation forms do not need to be notarized. We only require the signature of two witnesses, along with the donor’s signature on the main donation form.

Are you currently taking bodies?

In general, yes we are currently accepting bodies. If donors have already enrolled into the program and meet the requirements at the time of death, then we will accept them into the program.

How much does it cost to donate my body?

The family is responsible for the costs involved in transporting the body to the University of Missouri morgue. All expenses from that point on are incurred by the University. This includes embalming, cremation, and interring the ashes or returning them to the family.

Who should transport the body?

Generally arrangements need to be made by the family with a funeral home or transport service.

Can I donate my body and be an organ donor?

In general, no. Although we strongly encourage people to donate their organs, our program is for “Whole Body” donations. You may however arrange to donate your eyes with the Missouri Lions Eye Bank and still participate in the Gift of Body program. Donation of any other organs will disallow participation in our program.

Am I currently enrolled into the program?

Please contact the program administrator at 573-882-2288 or send an email to to verify your enrollment.

Can a power of attorney sign Gift of Body donation forms?

Yes, we allow a power of attorney to sign the donation forms in place of the donor. We do require a copy of the Power of Attorney form along with the donation forms.

If I change my mind, may I cancel my request to donate my body?

Yes. If you are an enrolled donor and decide that you no longer wish to be enrolled in the program, please send a written document or contact the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, and we will remove you from the list. We will shred the enrollment documentation or we can send you the original documents for disposal.