Human Gifts Registry Tree  

What is the humanity gifts registry?

The Humanity Gifts Registry is a nonprofit agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania concerned primarily with the receipt and distribution of bodies donated to all medical and dental schools in the state for teaching purposes. The Registry, formerly called the Anatomical Board, has been in existence since 1883.

How does one make the donation?

Please download two copies of the Donor Form. Fill them out completely and they must be witnessed by two adults. Send one form to the registry and keep one for your records. You must be 18 years of age to be a registered donor.

Is there an age limit?

There is absolutely no age limit for total body donation for medical education and research. Age is not a criteria for acceptance or rejection.

How long will studies take in a medical school?

Studies for medical education and research will take up to two years or longer to be completed.

What happens to my body after studies have been completed?

Upon completion of studies, the remains will be cremated and the ashes interred in one of our established cemeteries located in Philadelphia, Hershey and Pittsburgh. If a family wishes to have the ashes returned for private burial, special arrangements can be made. The Registry office must have a written request from the next of kin at the time of death of the donor. A family should be aware it may take up to two years or longer before the ashes may be available.

Will my name be recorded at the registry's gravesite?

No. In order to respect the privacy and anonymity requested by some donors, the names of donors do not appear at the gravesite. However, all gravesites are marked by a number. Information regarding your final resting place is available from the Registry office.

Are there any costs involved when my body has been donated?

The Registry will pay $100 towards the expense of having your body transported from the place of death, by a licensed funeral director, to one of our medical teaching institutions. Your next of kin or estate will be responsible for the costs over this amount.

The Registry also assumes the cost of cremation, burial of the ashes in our established cemeteries and Celebrations of Remembrance held by the Registry once a year.

What do your celebrations of remembrance involve?

Our Celebrations of Remembrance are held each year in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Family members and friends are invited to help us honor and commemorate the special individuals who have selflessly donated their bodies for the advancement of medical education and research. Names of the donors are included on a Memorial Card at the request of the family. Medical students and faculty members from all of our medical schools will be participating and attending the celebrations.

Are there circumstances under which my body may not be acceptable at death?

It is only under most unusual circumstances that a donor's body would be rejected; however the Registry reserves the right to refuse a donation.

Bodies of persons dying from highly communicable diseases, crushing injuries, whose remains are autopsied, decomposed, embalmed, obese, or have had recent extensive surgery prior to death may not be accepted.

A determination is made at death for acceptance of remains. If the Registry is unable to accept a body, it will not be removed from the place of death. Disposition would be the responsibility of the next of kin.

Can I be an organ donor as well as for whole body?

The registry can accept a body after the EYES and SKIN has been donated. Although we prefer the remains to be intact, at times we may be able to accept a body after the internal organs have been harvested, however IT CANNOT BE GUARANTEED.

Will my family receive any reports from the medical school?

The medical schools cannot give out any reports concerning their anatomical studies. If the family has any questions regarding the cause of death, such matters should be directed to the deceased's physician.

What happens if death occurs out of state?

Your body can be donated to the nearest medical school or Anatomical Board. Your donor card or donor form is a legal document in all fifty states.

What if i am a resident of new jersey or delaware?

The registry accepts donors from New Jersey and Delaware. However; if death occurs in either State beyond a fifty mile (50) radius of Philadelphia, your next of kin are responsible for retaining the services of a funeral director to transport your body to one of our medical schools. The chosen funeral director must contact our office for full instructions. All costs for transportation are the responsibility of the next of kin.

How does my family obtain copies of the death certificate?

Your family may obtain certified copies of the death certificate through the funeral director who has transported your remains to the medical school or directly through the Bureau of Vital Records in New Castle, Pennsylvania. One cannot legally obtain copies from a hospital or physician.

Costs for death certificates and fees which a funeral director may charge for services in obtaining such copies are the responsibility of the next of kin or estate. The Registry has no jurisdiction in the matter.

Does Humanity Gifts Registry accepts monetary donations?

Yes. Monetary gifts can be made at any time and memorialize anyone a donor wishes. Donations can be made by check made payable to "Humanity Gifts Registry" and sent to: P.O. Box 835, Philadelphia, PA 19105-0835. Please make sure to include the name of the donor your donation is memorializing so we can properly inform the family of its receipt.

Any Rumors?

Rumors persist that one may sell one's body to a medical school or the Humanity Gifts Registry. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WILL PAYMENT BE MADE FOR A BODY OR BODY PARTS.


Humanity Gifts Registry
P.O. Box 835 • Philadelphia, PA • 19105-0835 • (215) 922-4440 • M-F 8-3pm

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