Types of Donations

Transplantation is one of the most remarkable success stories in the history of medicine. But despite continuing advances in medicine and technology, the need for organs and tissue is vastly greater than the number available for transplantation.

Transplantation gives hope to thousands of people with organ failure and provides many others with active and renewed lives.


    Q. Why are human bodies donated to the Bureau of Anatomical Services or one of its member institutions? A. They are an indispensable aid in medical teaching and research. The basis of all medical knowledge is human anatomy; human anatomy can be learned only by a study of the human body. Without this study there could be no doctors, no surgery, no alleviation of disease or repair of injury.

    Q. Is this a normal and acceptable procedure? A. Definitely yes.

    Q. Are there religious objectives to donating one’s body to medical science? A. The practice is approved, and even encouraged, by Catholic, Protestant and Reformed Jewish religious leaders.

    Q. Is there an urgent need for body donations? A. The need is great and will be further increased by the demand for more doctors, dentists, nurses and other health service practitioners. A lack of anatomical subjects would necessitate a curtailment of vitally important teaching and research programs and thus have an adverse effect on the health and welfare of the population.

    Q . Is donating one’s body difficult or complicated? A. No, it is a very simple and easy procedure. One needs only to complete a donation form which requires a few items of information, the donor’s signature and the signature of two witnesses.

    Q. Can a donation take place against the wishes of the spouse or next of kin? A. Under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, your wishes take legal precedence over those of your next of kin. However, the BAS is not inclined to accept a body under conditions in which there is an objection to donation or dissension among members of the family who are legally responsible for final disposition of the body. Donors are advised to notify all persons likely to be concerned of their intentions and plans to make a donation of their body. In this way, any difference of opinion can be resolved in advance of the time of death when decisions must be made in haste and under the handicap of grief.

    Q. Can the next of kin donate the body of a recently deceased relative to medical science? A. In some instances donations may be made by the next of kin. However, since previously registered donors are given first priority, the family or hospital must contact the BAS on an individual basis to see if there is a need at the moment. When this is done, the following release statement should accompany the body:
    * I/We, (the person(s)’ name), being the nearest next of kin [as outlined in RS: ] or by individual having legal authority for final disposition to (name of deceased) do hereby agree to release his/her body to the Bureau of Anatomical Services (or University of choice) for medical education and/or research.*

    Q . Must a person be of legal age to sign a donation form? A. Yes, a donor and all witnesses must be at least 18 years of age and there is no maximum age limit.

    Q . How are bodies that are donated utilized? A. Many bodies are used to teach medical, dental, nursing and allied health students basic human anatomy. Some are used by the faculty and residents to develop new surgical or diagnostic procedures. Others are utilized for Post Graduate course and continuing education for practicing Health Care providers. This is not comparable to an autopsy. No reports of any kind are furnished to the donor’s family.

    Q . May I alter, cancel or revoke my donation if I change my mind? A. Yes, at any time by notifying the BAS in writing of your desire to cancel your donation. In contact of these uses we do not have the capability of performing an autopsy; therefore no reports of any kind are furnished to the donor’s family of the cause of death and diseases, etc.

    Q . Will I or my family be paid for my body? A. No. Payment to individuals for an anatomical donation is not permitted by federal and state laws/regulations.

    Q. Will signing the back of my driver’s license ensure that my remains are given to your program? A. No. Signing the back of your driver’s license will not get your whole body donated to science. Your signature on the back of your driver’s license allows medical personnel to harvest designated organs from your body for transplant purposes, but usually under optimum conditions only.

    Q . Are bodies acceptable if the eyes or organs have been donated to other agencies? A. Yes. Eyes and organs can be donated to other agencies, but it is the donor’s responsibility to contact and register with those agencies. The telephone numbers for several agencies are listed below:
    National Kidney Foundation – (504) 861-4500 (accepts other organs besides the kidneys)
    Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency – (504) 837-3355
    Your Local Eye Bank

    Q. Are there any restrictions on the condition of bodies accepted? A. Normally, most bodies are acceptable. However we are unable to accept the remains of persons who die when an infectious disease present, such as AIDS, hepatitis, sepsis, etc. Remains will also be refused if an autopsy or embalming has been performed, or should the President of the Bureau deem the body unsuitable. You should have an alternative plan for the disposition of your body in the event it is not accepted by BAS.

    Q. What is the time period before utilization of the body is completed? A. This will vary markedly according to the medical education and research. In some instances, donations will be utilized relatively quickly where others may require up to three or more years.

    Q. What if my death occurs away from my place of residence? A. An identification card, stating that the bequest has been made, is provided by the BAS. This card should be carried in your purse or wallet at all times (the donor would be wise to note on the card the name of the person(s) to be notified in the event of sudden and unexpected death).

    Q. What if my death occurs in another state? A. Your family could attempt to donate your remains to a similar donor program in that state. Or, if it is still your family’s wish to honor your original donation of your remains to the BAS, they may do so, but will incur the transportation charges to have your remains returned to Louisiana.

    Q. What if I should move to another state? A. The original bequest should be revoked in writing and a substitute arrangement be made with a similar program nearest your new home unless your family estate or survivors or opt to honor your original request in which the family will pay the transportation charges to transport your remains to Louisiana.

    Q. Must I be a resident of Louisiana to donate my body? A. As of January 1994, the Bureau discontinued taking new donations from outside the State of Louisiana. However, a prospective donor who lives outside of Louisiana, if the family agrees to pay transportation, the remains may be accepted by the Bureau of Anatomical Services. Out of State agreement must be filled out in which the person responsible accepts the payment of transportation. (Copies of this form are available upon request.)

    Q . May a customary or traditional type of funeral service be held prior to the transfer of the body to the Bureau for Anatomical Services? A. We do not recommend that a traditional funeral service be held. If the family wishes to conduct a service, we suggest that they hold a memorial service.

    Q. What organization should my family contact to request a death certificate*? A. For insurance and banking purposes, a certified death certificate is required and can be obtained from the contracted funeral home (for a additional fee) or from:

    Vital Records Registry
    P. O. Box 60630
    New Orleans, Louisiana 70160-0630
    (504) 219-4500 or VitalChek (877) 605-8562

    * Allow eight weeks or longer from the time of death for the death certificate to be processed.

    Q . What happens when the utilization of the donation is concluded? A. The remains will be cremated. If requested (in writing) to do so, the Bureau will return the ashes, in a suitable container, to the surviving relatives. If no such request is made, the ashes will be buried in a cemetery designated for the BAS with an appropriate ceremony.

  • Additional information about donating your body to science: Whole Body Donation

    Are you interested in donating your whole body for medical research purposes? The Bureau of Anatomical Services (BAS) appreciates your desire to donate your remains for purposes of medical education and research. Making an anatomical gift is a final act of caring and leaves a legacy of hope for the future. The LSU Department of Cell Biology & Anatomy can help answer any questions that you may have about the process.
    Questions & Answers about whole body donation
    Complete list of body donation programs in the United States.

    Important Numbers
    Bureau Office – LSU (New Orleans) (504) 568-4012
    Anatomy Dept – LSU (New Orleans) (504) 568-2165
    Dept of Anatomy – LSU (Shreveport) (318) 675-5320
    Anatomy Dept – Tulane University (504) 988-5255

  • What you should know about donating your body to science and required forms

    The Bureau of Anatomical Services (BAS) appreciates your desire to donate your remains for purposes of medical education and research. The BAS, functioning under Louisiana law, is responsible for the procurement, use and disposition of the remains which are donated. Remains donated to the BAS are assigned to one of its member institutions: LSU Schools of Medicine or Dentistry at New Orleans, LSU School of Medicine at Shreveport or Tulane University Medical Center.

    The Bureau of Anatomical Services does not pay individuals for their remains. However, by making your donation, you have relieved your survivors of the majority of expenses of burial. The BAS arranges and pays the expenses for transporting remains of registered donors whose death occurs within 200 miles of New Orleans, La. (restrictions may apply to some areas of Mississippi). The family will be required to pay the additional mileage beyond the 200 miles.

    To donate your remains, complete and sign the enclosed form. Please have two witnesses (preferably family members) also sign the form. If the form is not filled out completely, it will be returned. Mail the original (white copy) to: Bureau of Anatomical Services, 1901 Perdido Street, New Orleans, LA 70112-1393. Your form must be on file at least sixty (60) days before your death in order for you to be considered a registered donor. You will receive an acceptance letter and donor cards after the 60 day waiting period has expired. If death occurs prior to the end of the 60 day waiting period, the donation still may be made if the family or estate incurs all related charges. The other form (yellow copy) should be given to a relative, friend, or physician who should be instructed to report your death to the President of the Bureau of Anatomical Services (568-4012). It is important for you to inform your close relatives and friends that the BAS will be unable to accept your remains if: 1) an autopsy has been performed, 2) embalming is done prior to delivery to the Bureau, 3) an infectious disease (e.g. hepatitis, HIV, or sepsis) is present, 4) the body is excessively obese, 5) the body is in a badly deteriorated condition or severely damaged as a result of an accident, 6) the death requires an autopsy according to Louisiana state regulations, 7) death occurred as a result of excessive trauma to the body, or 8) should the President of the Bureau deem the body unusable. In addition to the donation of your remains to the Bureau, you may donate your eyes and/or whole organs to the respective agency. By your donation, you are making a noteworthy contribution to medical education and research and the Bureau appreciates your generous spirit in this matter. Frequently asked questions are answered on the attached page. Further information will be supplied on request regarding the procedures.

    Important Numbers
    Bureau Office – LSU (New Orleans) (504) 568-4012
    Anatomy Dept – LSU (New Orleans) (504) 568-2165
    Dept of Anatomy – LSU (Shreveport) (318) 675-5320
    Anatomy Dept – Tulane University (504) 988-5255

  • Tissue Donation

    Donated tissues such as skin, bone and heart valves can dramatically improve the quality of life for recipients, and even save lives.

    In case of tissue donation, for which most deceased persons can be potential donors, the local tissue recovery organization receives a referral from a hospital, medical examiner or funeral home notifying them that an individual has died. An initial determination of donor eligibility is made based on basic criteria and available information (i.e., age, cause of death, immediate evidence of infection, etc.). If it is determined that the deceased individual is a candidate for donation, the state donor registry is searched and one or more persons who know the potential donor (i.e. historians) are contacted for a medical and social history. If the potential donor is not found on the registry, his or her legally authorized representative (usually a spouse, relative or close friend) is offered the opportunity to authorize the donation. Tissue donation must be initiated within 24 hours of death. Unlike organs, tissue can be processed and stored for an extended period of time for use in burn cases, ligament repair, bone replacement, etc. (American Association of Tissue Banks, 2010).

    Each year, life-saving and life-enhancing tissue is provided by approximately 30,000 tissue donors.

    One tissue donor can enhance the lives of more than 50 people.

  • Organ Donation

    Organ donation is the process of giving an organ or a part of an organ for the purpose of transplantation into another person.

    In order for a person to become an organ donor, blood and oxygen must flow through the organs until the time of recovery to ensure viability. This requires that a person die under circumstances that have resulted in an irreparable neurological injury, usually from massive trauma to the brain such as aneurysm, stroke or automobile accident. Only after all efforts to save the patient’s life have been exhausted, tests are performed to confirm the absence of brain or brain stem activity, and brain death has been declared, is donation a possibility. The state donor registry is searched to determine if the patient has personally consented to donation. If the potential donor is not found on the registry, his or her legally authorized representative (usually a spouse, relative or close friend) is offered the opportunity to authorize the donation. Once the donation decision is established, the family is asked to provide a medical and social history. Donation professionals determine which organs can be transplanted and to which patients on the national transplant waiting list the organs are to be allocated.

    Organ donation can occur with:

    a deceased donor, who can give kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, heart, intestinal organs
    a living donor, who can give a kidney, or a portion of the liver, lung, intestine, or pancreas

  • Living Donation

    While it is important to talk about end-of-life decisions including organ donation, it is becoming more common to donate organs and partial organs while living. Kidneys are the most common organs donated by living donors. Other organs that can be donated include a lobe of a lung, partial liver, pancreas or intestine.

    Although the decision to become a living donor involves careful consideration, being a living donor offers patients an alternative to waiting on the national transplant waiting list for an organ from a deceased donor.

    To learn more, choose an option below:

    Who can be a living donor?
    Types of living donation
    Risks and recovery

    For more information, go to or contact your local transplant center.
    Who can be a living donor?

    While many people are willing to be living donors, not everyone has the qualities necessary to participate in living donation. Donors must be chosen carefully in order to avoid outcomes that are medically and psychologically unsatisfactory.

    While the individual circumstances of each potential donor are discussed privately and tested to determine compatibility.

    Individuals considered for living donation are usually between 18-60 years of age. Gender and race are not factors in determining a successful match.
    Types of living donation

    Although not all transplant centers perform all types, living donation has expanded to include many variations since the practice began in 1954, including:

    Related – Blood relatives of transplant candidates including brothers, sisters, parents, children (over 18 years of age), aunts, uncles, cousins, half brothers & sisters, nieces and nephews.
    Non-Related – Individuals emotionally close to, but not related by blood to transplant candidates, including spouses, in-law relatives, close friends, coworkers, neighbors or other acquaintances.
    Non-Directed – Individuals who are not related to or known by the recipient, but make their donation purely out of selfless motives. This type of donation is also referred to as anonymous, altruistic, altruistic stranger, and stranger-to-stranger living donation.
    Paired Donation – Consists of two kidney donor/recipient pairs whose blood types are not compatible. The two recipients trade donors so that each recipient can receive a kidney with a compatible blood type.
    Kidney Donor Waiting List Exchange – If a paired exchange cannot be found, living donors in certain areas of the country may be eligible for living kidney donor list exchange. In this type of exchange, a kidney donor who is not compatible with their intended recipient offers to donate to a stranger on the waiting list. In return, the intended recipient advances on the waiting list for a deceased donor kidney.
    Blood Type Incompatible – This type of donation allows candidates to receive a kidney from a living donor who has an incompatible blood type. To prevent immediate rejection of the kidney, recipients undergo plasmapheresis treatments before and after the transplant to remove harmful antibodies from the blood, as well as the removal of the spleen at the time of transplant.
    Positive Crossmatch – The positive crossmatch process is similar to the process used for ABO-incompatible living-donor kidney transplants, where patients can receive kidneys from living donors with blood types incompatible with their own. Similarly, treating patients with plasmapheresis also greatly reduces the chance of organ rejection in patients with elevated antibody levels. Positive crossmatch live donor kidney transplants are usually only performed if no other live donors (with a negative crossmatch) exist.

    Risks and recovery

    Although transplantation is highly successful, complications for the donor and recipient can arise.

    However, living donation does not change life expectancy, and after recovery from the surgery, most donors go on to live happy, healthy and normal lives.

    For living kidney donors, the remaining kidney will enlarge slightly to do the work that two healthy kidneys share. The liver has the ability to regenerate and regain full function. Lungs and pancreas do not regenerate, but donors usually have no problems with reduced function.

    The usual recovery time after the surgery is short, and donors can generally resume their normal home and working lives within two to six weeks.

    Be sure to talk to your doctor about what to expect.

  • Cornea Donation

    Cornea donation is necessary for the preservation and restoration of sight. That’s because the cornea is the clear dome-like window covering the front of the eye that allows the light to pass through to the retina, which enables us to see.In case of cornea donation, for which most deceased individuals are potential donors, an eye bank receives a call from a hospital, an organ recovery agency or another federally designated third party that an individual has died and has met preliminary criteria for donation. Cornea donation usually happens within 12 hours of death.

    The state donor registry is searched and if the potential donor is not found on the registry, the donor’s legally authorized representative (usually a spouse, relative or close friend) is given the opportunity to authorize the donation. In addition, they are asked for the donor’s medical and social history, which provides the eye bank with information to help determine donor eligibility. The donor profile is screened for physical signs of infectious disease or behavior that may have put them at risk, such as intravenous drug use. Corneas are evaluated for cell count and clarity of the tissue. That information, together with the donor’s age, is used to determine which patient will receive the cornea for transplant. Whenever possible, eye banks try to place the cornea with a patient that is close in age to the donor to help ensure that the cornea will last throughout the patient’s lifetime. Corneas are transplantable for up to 14 days after recovery (Eye Bank Association of America, 2010).