Frequently Asked Questions

What are the uses of an anatomical gift at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine?

  • The UVM Anatomical Gift Program is a whole-body donation program that allows medical and graduate students, health care professionals, and clinical specialists at the University of Vermont, and our affiliate The University of Vermont Medical Center, to study the structure of the human body, conduct anatomical reviews, and develop new clinical procedures.
  • A majority of donations are studied during anatomy courses for first-year students in the Larner College of Medicine and for first-year students studying towards their doctorate in Physical Therapy. Some donations will also be used in advanced anatomy courses for medical students, resident training, clinical training, and limited research studies involving anatomical structures. Our donors are not used for research into any disease process, nor is any testing done for such.

Who can donate?

  • The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, adopted by the Vermont State Legislature in 1970, permits people at least 18 years of age or older to legally donate their remains to medical institutions for the advancement of medical science. The University of Vermont registration materials are to be completed in the presence of 2 witnesses and then submitted to this department to finalize the registration. In most circumstances, we require that the donor be legally competent to sign for him/herself. There is no upper age limit for registration or donation to the Anatomical Gift Program.
  • The Anatomical Gift Program at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine may not accept a donation if the individual did not pre-registered with our program.

How can I enroll in the Anatomical Gift Program at the University of Vermont?

  • Registration forms will be sent upon request during regular business hours. Those wishing to register as a whole-body donor should contact us at (802) 656-4605 or to request registration materials. All paperwork must be completed and on file in our office to facilitate acceptance of a donation. We advise prospective donors to discuss their decision with appropriate family members/executors.

Can I donate my body to the Anatomical Gift Program and also be an organ donor?

  • No, with the exception of eye donation. In general, being an organ donor precludes one from making an anatomical gift for medical education. Eye donation is compatible with body donation, and must be completed prior to arrival to UVM after the time of death.

How long will my body remain at the University of Vermont?

  • In general, donations remain at the University of Vermont for a period of 2-3 years. A donor may choose to allow the University to maintain the body for special preparations for a longer period of time, as indicated in the Special Use Form of our registration packet.

What will become of the remains after studies are complete?

  • After studies have been completed, the cremated remains will be returned to the designated Recipient for final disposition.
  • Designation of the Recipient is made at the time of registration, and may be changed at any time by contacting our office and updating the paperwork.
  • Our registration packet also includes a form for special uses. Each donor has the option to choose: If special preparations may be maintained by UVM for longer than the standard 2-3 year period (while the remains will be returned within 3 years, these preparations will not be cremated nor returned with the body); If UVM may maintain the body for longer than they typical 2-3 year period, and return remains at the time studies are complete; If the donor or special preparation may be sent to another institution for studies; If the skeleton may be retained for full-bone preparations (no cremains will be returned).

What is the cost of making an anatomical gift donation?

  • The UVM Larner  College of Medicine pays for services directly related to the donation, in accordance with policy current at the time of the donor's arrival. For donors whose deaths have occurred within the State of Vermont or within a few miles of its borders, UVM pays for removal and paperwork (including the Burial Transfer Permit), plus the per loaded mile for transportation to the University. For all other donations, the College will only pay for mileage from the Vermont State border to our facility. Any additional fees charged by the transporting funeral home or cremation service are the responsibility of the donor's estate or Next of Kin/agent. UVM assumes no responsibility for donors transported to the University without prior authorization by our staff nor those whose bequests have been declined. Although transportation costs as noted will be the responsibility of the Larner College of Medicine, all arrangements are the responsibility of the donor or his/her designee. We also assume all responsibility for cremation of the remains following completion of the studies and return of the ashes to a designated recipient.

Will I automatically be accepted once I am registered with the Anatomical Gift Program?

  • No, however most donors registered in our whole-body donation program can be accepted. There is often concern that having had organs removed due to previous surgical procedures will prohibit an individual from becoming a donor, but this is rarely the case. The University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine reserves the right to decline any donation. The most common reasons that donation may be declined include (but are not limited to):
    • An autopsy or recent surgery has been performed.
    • Organs (with the exception of eyes) have been removed after death.
    • There has been severe physical trauma or multiple amputations.
    • There is a history of a serious communicable disease, including (but not limited to): HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, meningitis, tuberculosis, or antibiotic-resistant microorganisms.
    • Sepsis is present or there is infection and the microorganism has not been identified and/or treated.
    • The body is extremely obese, severely emaciated, or has noticeable edema or decomposition.
    • More than 48-60 hours will have elapsed from time of death to arrival at our facility.
    • Our facility is full.
    • The University is officially closed (such as for holidays and storm closures), and/or our embalmer or facility is unavailable. Our University remains open during most student breaks. If in doubt, please contact us.
  • We strongly encourage every donor to discuss the details of this bequest with those who may be involved and to provide them with copies of our information letter, as well as written instructions pertaining to their arrangements.

Can I change my mind once I have registered with the Anatomical Gift Program?

  • Yes. You can withdraw from the program at any time by contacting our office and completing paperwork to be removed from the registered donor list. It is recommended that you share this with those involved in your initial registration.

What will happen at the time of death?

  • Before bringing a body to UVM, the funeral home or cremation service that will be facilitating the transportation is to telephone (802) 656-4605. Our staff will need to review various factors in order to determine whether or not the donation can be accepted. The medical Preliminary Report of Death (PROD) by the certifying physician is crucial for this process.  

Will UVM provide my family with a report on findings during the studies?

  • No. The faculty and students involved in the studies are not qualified to provide a report on findings during studies.

What happens when studies are complete?

  • Shortly before completion of the anatomical studies, the designated Recipient will be contacted to verify the instructions. Please notify this individual or funeral home that it may be 2-3 years from the time of the donor's arrival at our facility before the studies are completed and the ashes returned.

Can my family members contact UVM to check on the status of studies?

  • Yes. Family members can feel free to contact the Anatomical Gift Program if they would like information on when studies will likely be complete, but should be made aware that it will likely be 2-3 years from the time of the donation.

What happens if I am outside of Vermont at the time of death?

  • A donor must be transported to our facility within 48-60 hours from the time of death. Should this not be possible, we regretfully must decline the donation. For accepted donors that have died outside of Vermont, the College assumes costs according to the current fee structure.
  • If you frequently travel to or live in another region for part of the year, we strongly encourage you to also register with Anatomical Gift Programs in that region.

If accepted, our staff will set up a time to meet with the funeral home or cremation service representative at UVM to receive the body.

  • Regrettably, not all donations can be accepted and this will be determined before transportation to our facility takes place. All donors and their family/executer are encouraged to have a backup plan in place, in this event.