Willed Body Program – Answers to Common Questions

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What do I need to do to donate my body to medical research?

If you are interested in donating your body, please contact Membership Services to request an application.  Membership Services can be reached by calling 214-648-5029.  Forms can also be requested by email at WBMembershipServices@UTSouthwestern.edu.  

UT Southwestern can also accept donations of individuals that are not previously signed up with our program prior to passing and after death has occurred. These are called 'Donation By Next of Kin.' Next of kin may contact the Willed Body Program for approval of such donations at 214-648-2221 or 1-888-905-9991.

Whom should a donor's family notify of a donor's death?

In the event of a donor's death, the family should call the Willed Body Program at 214-648-2221 or toll-free at 1-888-905-9991. Staff members are on call 24 hours a day to receive notification.  Willed Body Program staff will handle all removal arrangements.

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Are there cases in which a body is not acceptable for medical research?

The Willed Body Program may decline any body that may not be suitable for scientific or educational purposes. There are a number of situations that may lead to a body not being accepted:

  • If the body has been embalmed
  • Cases of a contagious disease such as virulent Herpes, Hepatitis, HIV, Tuberculosis, Ebola, or some cases of senile dementia and COVID-19
  • Some cases of severe obesity, emaciation, body contracture, or jaundice

If the Willed Body Program determines that the body is unusable for these or other reasons, survivors will need to make other arrangements for the body's final disposition. The Willed Body Program cannot be responsible for any costs associated with other arrangements.

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Will my family or next of kin receive any payment for the donation of my body?

No. Texas law prohibits such payments.

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Will there be any charge to me and my family for the donation of my body?

There is no cost to your family for donation. However, a nominal fee may be charged if the place of death is more than 150 miles from UT Southwestern Medical Center. If you reside more than 150 miles from UT Southwestern, there may be a program in your area that our staff can refer you to. Ask one of our associates for more details by calling 214-648-2221.

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What happens if I have donated my body to UT Southwestern but I die in another state?

Your family can pursue donation of your body to the nearest medical institution located within the state in which the death occurred. The Willed Body Program can provide assistance, if needed.

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What happens to my body after studies are completed?

In conformation with state law, all bodies are cremated upon completion of studies.

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Can the cremated remains be returned for burial?

The cremated remains may be returned to the next of kin if the request has been made in advance. Your next of kin will be notified by letter of the following options:

  • Receive the ashes by certified mail
  • Make an appointment to receive the ashes in person
  • Burial at sea

Remains are usually returned within 18 to 24 months.

In some instances, cremated remains may not be available because of the nature of medical research.

You should discuss your wishes with your next of kin and make sure UT Southwestern is kept informed of your decision. Please make sure we always have a current address and phone number for you and your next of kin.

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What happens if the return of cremated remains is not requested?

For families electing to not receive ashes back, a burial at sea will take place when studies are complete. We do not notify you when ashes have been scattered at sea, but you may contact our office for that information. Our burials at sea are done quarterly and take place just off the coast of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico.

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What if I change my mind after I have agreed to donate my body?

You can rescind your gift by notifying us in writing.

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Can my eyes be donated to the eye bank?

Yes, but these arrangements must be made separately with the Transplant Services Center at UT Southwestern, 214-645-7363. We will be glad to honor such requests. Please let us know what steps have been taken toward eye donation.

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Can a bequest be made as a codicil to a will?

Yes. You should consult an attorney for details on this; however, for UT Southwestern to accept your body, it must meet our criteria.

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Whom should I notify of my bequest?

In addition to notifying UT Southwestern, it is important to notify your next of kin or person acting as such of your wishes. If you have no living kin, please contact our office for additional information.

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Can a financial contribution be made in memory or honor of a loved one?

Yes. If someone wishes to make a donation to UT Southwestern in honor or memory of a loved one, send it to:

UT Southwestern Medical Center
Office of Development
P.O. Box 910888
Dallas, TX 75390-0888

Please specify if the donation is intended to support the Willed Body Program or some other aspect of medical research or education.

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