This site contains information about the Body Donor Program and answers frequently asked questions.
We accept eligible donations from donors who live in the Sydney metropolitan area. Please be aware that if you currently live in Sydney and you move to a location outside of our boundaries, the University will have to cancel your donation. Also, please be aware that we will not be able to accept your donation if you pass away outside of the acceptance area.
To check if you live within the acceptance area, please click on the Body Donor Map link and enter in your residential address. The website will confirm your eligibility. If you have any questions, please call the Body Donor Coordinator on 02 9351 2519.
For the health and safety of our staff and students, the body donor program is bound by the decisions made by risk assessment groups that advise us. If you have a disease that is either not well understood or potentially infectious, unfortunately we cannot accept your donation.
Other conditions that will prevent the University from accepting the donation include:
Please note other circumstances may arise which would prevent receipt of the body.
Please read the questions and answers below, which offer a thorough guide on eligibility for body donation. Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions regarding your eligibility.
Our donors provide the crucial material needed for the study of human anatomy. Hands-on learning of anatomy – its structures, relationships, and functional systems – is key to students understanding the human body, including the variations, anomalies and pathology present in each of us. Such aspects of human anatomy are difficult to convey in lectures and books, where the focus is on ideal scenarios rather than the complexities of real human anatomy.
As well as educating a large number of medical, dental and science students, the School of Medical Sciences also supports students studying honours, master's and doctoral degrees. These students are supervised by senior staff who conduct research projects as well as carry out their undergraduate teaching commitments.
The discipline also facilitates postgraduate courses, workshops, and examinations for professional colleges and associations in the areas of surgery, dentistry, ophthalmology and orthopaedics.
If you are thinking of donating your body to the University, your first step is to check your eligibility.
If you are eligible to become a donor, contact the Donor Program Program Coordinator and who will send you information about the program and forms to complete (by you, your family or the executor of your will). When you have completed the forms, retain one set and return the other to the address above.
We will advise you of your registration with the bequest program once the University has received the correctly completed donor offer forms and they satisfy our acceptance requirements. Once your signed and witnessed consent form has been received, your details are held in a confidential file.
Please make sure you inform your family of your commitment to donate your body.
Our program enables students to examine and research the complexities and infinite variations of the structure of the human body, however, the program is not designed to study specific diseases individual donors may have. If you wish your body to be used for research on a particular disease we suggest you contact the relevant patient support group or research organisation.
You may register with our bequest program and be registered as an organ donor. At the time of death, the University requires the body fully intact and cannot accept a donation if organs have been removed. The reason we allow dual registration is that less than 1 percent of people die in hospital in the specific circumstances in which organ donation is possible.
The University regrets that it is not able to accept a donation through your will alone.
The registration process requires you to specify the details of your senior next of kin and executor, but if you have no next of kin or executor, you may contact the NSW Trustee and Guardian who can be assigned as your executor.
The University can only accept your body if you have completed and signed the donor offer forms. It is not possible for your family to donate your body on your behalf (before or after death). Your family, executor, next of kin, power of attorney or your enduring guardian cannot sign on the donor's behalf. The donor must have the capacity to understand, consent to and sign the registration forms.
We can only accept donations from residents of the Sydney metropolitan area. If you live outside of our boundaries, you may be able to join alternative body donation programs with these institutions:
Once you have been registered with us as a donor you will be sent a donor card. You should inform your family, nurse, doctor in attendance or nursing home administrator of your intentions. Although a good idea, it is not compulsory to put your intention to donate your body in your will. However, many donors do so for clarification purposes. You should discuss your intentions to donate with your next of kin and executor. It is important that your family and your executor accept your wishes.
The University's donor offer forms are not legally binding. Should you change your mind at any time you can inform us simply by contacting us.
It is important to notify us in writing should your address, your executor’s or senior next of kin's circumstances change. Also, it is important to notify us if you contract a serious infectious disease.
If you wish to make a contribution towards expenses that will be incurred by the University, or if you wish to contribute financially to research in the School of Medical Sciences, this is best arranged in consultation with your solicitor.
Upon your death, the University or the University's contracted funeral director needs to be notified as soon as possible. Ideally, the body should be delivered to the University within 24 hours of death but no more than 48 hours, otherwise the University may not be able to accept the donation.
If you call after hours, over the weekend or on a public holiday, a recorded message will provide the telephone number of our contracted funeral director.
Immediately upon receiving the notification of death, we, or our funeral director will make arrangements for removal of the body and delivery to the University, and meet all relevant expenses associated with your donation. We will also be responsible for burial or cremation as indicated by your preference on the consent forms.
Should your relatives wish to place a death notice in a newspaper our funeral director is able to make the necessary arrangements. The University does not bear the cost of such notices. Please note that once the body has been delivered to the University, there is normally no further contact with relatives.
The University regrets that it is not able to guarantee we can accept your body at the time of death. The time between the initial registration and your death may be several years or more, and circumstances can change significantly both with your own health and the circumstances prevailing in our mortuary. While the University welcomes and greatly values you as a donor, circumstances may arise which could prevent receipt of your body.
Conditions that will prevent the University from accepting the donation
Please note that unforeseen circumstances may arise which could prevent acceptance of the donation.
If we are unable to accept the donation, the University or its representative will advise the executor or senior next of kin. Please note no financial obligation can be accepted by the University if we are unable to accept the body.
Due to such a possibility, the body donor program recommends having alternative arrangements in place in case the University is unable to accept the donation.
There is a provision on the donor's offer form for you to indicate whether you give consent for your body, or tissue taken from it, to be transferred to another licensed institution in Australia. Your remains may be transferred to another institution if there is a shortage of human material for teaching and research. Specialised facilities may exist elsewhere that conduct workshops or courses requiring human specimens.
If your whole body is transferred to another institution, they officially take possession of your body and become responsible for the interment of your remains by making arrangements for a simple burial or cremation as specified by you and would meet the expenses of these arrangements. Where tissue has been transferred to another licensed institution, that institution will be required to return it to us so that it can be either buried or cremated (in accordance with your instructions) with the rest of your remains.
At the time of death, your relatives may organise a ceremony with their chosen funeral director. However, your body would not be present as donors are usually delivered to the university within 24 hours after death.
The University generally completes examination of the deceased remains within 2-4 years but may retain them for up to 8 years with permission from the NSW Department of Health. If you have indicated that you will allow permanent retention of the body or tissue taken from it, the University may retain them in excess of 8 years. It is important you discuss this fact with your family.
The University will arrange a simple burial or cremation, as indicated by you on your forms. The University will meet expenses for the cremation or simple burial. If you request an alternative crematorium or cemetery, the costs cannot be covered by the University and will need to be met by your family or estate.
If simple burial is selected, you will be buried at Macquarie Park Cemetery. These public burial grounds are not available for visitation so we recommend you discuss this with your family. You may wish to purchase, at your own expense, an individual burial plot at a cemetery of your choice.
On special request, the University is able to offer a brief, non-denominational chapel service –but a service at the burial site is not possible as the donor burial grounds are not available for visitation. The University will meet the expenses for this simple service, however any extra requirements will need to be covered by your family or estate.
If cremation is selected, the ashes will be scattered in the grounds of the Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium unless you have specified that the cremated remains should be returned to your next of kin or family member.
If no preference is selected your remains may be cremated or buried, with the decision being made at the time of interment.
On special request, the University may offer a brief non-denominational committal service at the time of cremation. The University will meet the expenses for this simple service, however any extra requirements will need to be covered by your family or estate.
Once the donation is complete, there is normally no contact between the donors family and the program. It is a condition of donation that we do not allow family members or members of the public to view bodies within the program.