Department of Anatomy with Medical Imaging

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I donate my body for anatomical teaching and research to the University of Auckland?

Please contact the Human Body Bequest Programme Coordinator to register your interest in body donation. It is recommended that you discuss your wishes with your next of kin, executor of your estate and your family doctor.  It is only with the consent of your family that we are able to accept your generous donation. 


How will my body be used?

Our department is involved in the training of medical students, surgeons, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurses and other health professionals in the study of anatomy, scientific studies and related research. 

The study of a donated body may take several years and with permission, in some cases selected tissue may be kept indefinitely for continuous use in teaching, scientific studies and research. Your family will need to give consent for any parts to be retained so it is important you discuss this possibility with them. Your body will always be used with due dignity and respect.


What happens when I die?

Your family, attending doctor or funeral director should contact the Human Body Bequest Programme at the University as soon as possible on 09-9236703.   We will decide whether the donation can be accepted for the Human Body Bequest Programme at the time of death.  We endeavour to accept every case, however occasionally we may be unable to accept your donation for medical or logistical reasons.

In order to determine if a body is appropriate for donation we need to get details of your medical history from your GP or treating doctor.   We will also need to speak with your family to gain their consent.  It is important you let your next of kin and treating doctor know your intentions.


Are all donations accepted?

There are reasons why at certain times and due to certain conditions we might not be able to accept your generous donation.  We reserve the right to decide whether or not to proceed with the donation.


Are there conditions which make my body not suitable for donation?

There are certain conditions which may mean that we are unable to accept your donation.  These include (but are not restricted to):

  • need for a coroner’s post-mortem
  • recent surgery
  • infectious diseases (Hepatitis, HIV, TB etc)
  • body weight more than 90kg or less than 45kg
  • open wounds/ pressure sores
  • undiagnosed (rapid-onset) dementia

*These are guidelines only - talk to us if you have any questions or concerns.

Are there any geographical constraints?

We typically take registrations from within an area approximately 3 hours drive from Auckland. This geographical constraint is taken into consideration before a body can be accepted into the programme. 


What happens if the University accepts my body?

Once accepted, we will liaise with the funeral director of your choice to make all of the necessary arrangements for transport of the body to our facility. You are welcome to choose whichever Funeral Director you and your family would like. We can help you with this step if required.


What happens if the University is unable to accept my body?

If declined, it will be the responsibility of your next of kin to make alternative arrangements.  As there may be circumstances in which we are unable to accept your generous donation, having an alternative plan will lessen the stress for your next of kin at the time of death.


Can I have a funeral service?

In order to appropriately care for your body, it must arrive in our facility promptly.  This means it is not possible to have a traditional funeral service or hold a formal viewing. However, a memorial service can be held without the body being present, if the donor or the relatives wish. 


What are the costs involved?

The University will pay the costs of transporting you to the medical school and for cremation.  The other costs (registration of death, any family memorial services) are the responsibility of your estate.


What happens when my body is no longer required for teaching or research?

Once the study of the body is complete (typically 1-3 years), the remains will be cremated in an individual casket.  At the time of donation, your family will be given the option of either collecting the ashes from the Medical School or having them scattered on their behalf at the memorial plot the University has at the Mangere Memorial Gardens.  If your family wishes to collect the ashes we will notify them when they are ready for collection.


Will my family receive a report of medical findings or be given details of the study of the body?

We do not perform autopsies on the bodies that are received at our facility or give specific details of the studies.


Are bodies donated to the Auckland Human Body Bequest Programme sent to Otago University or to other medical programmes overseas?

No – all bodies donated to the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences’ Human Body Bequest Programme will remain under the care of the Auckland Facility.​


Can I donate to the programme if I have cancer or another medical condition such as diabetes or asthma?

Having cancer or other medical conditions does not necessarily prevent a person from donating their body to the programme. This is part of the information we will ask at the time in order to decide if we can proceed.