Passage of the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act in 1968 established guidelines for the bequest of the human body. It reads in part: Any individual of sound mind and 18 years of age or more may give all or any part of his body for any purposes specified, the gift to take effect upon death . . . Any accredited medical or dental school, college, or university [may become a donee of gifts of bodies] for education, research, advancement of medical or dental science or therapy."
Two methods are available:
Pre-Registration: Any New Jersey resident over 18 may be a donor; there is no maximum age. Pre-registration is preferred. To receive information and an application form, call the Anatomical Association office at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School workdays at 1-800-GIFT-211. To apply, follow the instructions attached to the application form. Upon acceptance, you will receive a wallet card which identifies you as a donor. It is helpful to discuss your intentions with your next of kin, and familiarize them with the information in this brochure.
Bequeathal-After-Death: This form of donation occurs when the family of a deceased but unregistered individual wishes to donate the body to science.
The bequest is an arrangement, not a binding legal contract. The arrangement is easily canceled upon written request.
And, what happens when donors relocate outside of New Jersey?
When registered donors move from New Jersey, they should notify our office and we will assist them in finding a Program with a medical school in the new location.
When a bequest is made to RWJMSAA, and the donor dies outside of New Jersey, what is the procedure?
It is recommended that the possibility of donating the body to the nearest medical school be explored.
Similar to many whole body donor programs, the donor family, or authorized person noted on the signed Bequeathal Form, is responsible for the expense of donor transport. Donors will be transported to the Anatomical Association by the contracted, licensed funeral director, who provides quality service to University donor families. Donor families will be billed directly by the funeral director. The current cost for transporting your loved one is subject to change throughout time. The Anatomical Association assumes the costs for cremation and burial.
Acceptance of a bequeathal is not automatic. The decision to accept or reject the donation is always made at the time of death. The person you authorize (chosen earlier by the donor and listed on the bequeathal form) should be aware of your wishes should a rejection occur. Note the criteria in the paragraph below.
Reasons for rejection may include: Autopsy, presence or suspected presence of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, HIV-AIDS, “C”-Diff, MRSA, TB, Hepatitis, E-Coli, Adenovirus, Coronavirus, other types of infectious diseases, extremes of obesity or emaciation, beginning stages of decomposition, unhealed surgery, surgery to chest or abdomen within 6 months prior to passing, or previous embalming.
The Anatomical Association also reserves the right to decline a donation in the unlikely event that it has exceeded its capacity. When the Anatomical Association must refuse a donation, they notify the donor's authorized person who then handles disposition of the remains.
Although unlikely, it is possible that your body would be unacceptable for donation (see previous question), thus you and your authorized person should be aware of possible alternatives. Persons desiring simplicity and economy in funeral arrangements commonly join a memorial society, several of which are in NJ. More information can be obtained from Funeral Consumers Alliance at (800) 765-0107 or (802) 482-3437.
If death occurs at home and the donor is under hospice care, once hospice has pronounced the deceased, the family should immediately notify the Anatomical Association at (1-800-GIFT-211) - DO NOT call a local funeral home, as this may result in the donation being declined.
If death occurs at home and this is not a hospice case, call your local police who will assist you in arranging the pronouncement and then notify the Anatomical Association at 1-800-GIFT-211. If death occurs in a hospital or nursing home, personnel should immediately notify the Anatomical Association and families should verify that the call was made. Once notified, the Anatomical Association will arrange transportation.
Our primary responsibility is to meet the educational and research needs of Rutgers University. Occasionally the Anatomical Association receives requests for bodies for medical education and/or research taking place at other facilities, and may fill those needs according to rigid criteria. Therefore, at its discretion, the Anatomical Association may temporarily transfer a body to an approved teaching institution or research facility within New Jersey or the surrounding area.
No. Conveyance of the body must occur immediately. At their convenience, families may wish to plan a memorial service, or other appropriate remembrance as a means to closure.
The donor's physician must sign the death certificate, then the Anatomical Association will file the death certificate. The day a certificate is filed, ONE CERTIFIED COPY will be mailed to the authorized person (chosen earlier by the donor and listed on the Bequeathal Form). The Anatomical Association will also provide information where the family may obtain additional certified copies of the death certificate.