What are bodies used for?

'Anatomical examination' is the study of human anatomy for medical or scientific purposes and includes research, training and education. This may involve examination of the exterior and interior parts of your body. To examine the interior parts, your body will be dissected using surgical instruments. This may involve the removal of the skin; the opening of the various cavities of the body; the opening of the skull to allow examination of the brain and the removal of your limbs or tissue. All such procedures are performed by highly-skilled anatomy staff, medical professionals or students under supervision. Student anatomical examinations are designed to provide surgical experience and training to future doctors and medical professionals.

Macquarie University also provides services to internal and external organisations and other entities (such as Macquarie University Private Hospital and private and public companies) for the purpose of research, development, testing and evaluation (RDT&E), education and training. Examples of such services may include, but are not limited to, the education of medical professionals, development of new surgical techniques, collection of tissue for examination and research, development of new medical treatments and the testing of current and new medical devices and imaging techniques. RDT&E, education and training may be sponsored by commercial companies, the proceeds of which are invested back into research and medical training programs at Macquarie University.

Can someone else donate my body?

Your senior available next-of-kin can donate your body after your death even if your consent was not given in writing during your lifetime. The 'senior available next-of-kin' is defined in the Anatomy Act 1977 (NSW) and is the person at the top of a hierarchy established by the Act. If you have a spouse, your spouse will generally be your senior available next-of-kin. If you do not have a spouse, it would be:

  • a son or daughter, or
  • parent, or
  • brother or sister over the age of eighteen years

(in that order).

The senior available next-of-kin will need to establish that you had not expressed any objection to the anatomical examination of your body during your lifetime.

Can I donate my body if I have no next-of-kin or executor?

Yes. The registration process requires you to specify the details of your senior available next-of-kin and executor, but if you have no next-of-kin or executor, you may contact the NSW Trustee and Guardian who can be assigned as your executor. Refer to the website at www.tag.nsw.gov.au

How long will Macquarie University keep my body?

While most bodies are retained for only a few months, Macquarie University is legally allowed to hold your body for four years from your date of death. Macquarie University may apply to the NSW Ministry of Health for an extension of the retention period up to an additional four years. Macquarie University will dispose of your body at a time no longer than eight years from your date of death.

Are there any costs involved?

No payment may be made by Macquarie University to you, your estate, designated responsible party or survivors in connection with your body donation. However, by donating your body you are exempted from all cremation expenses. Macquarie University will NOT cover the cost of memorial services or burials.

How is my body delivered to Macquarie University?

New South Wales laws require a licensed funeral director to conduct all body transportations. Bodies must be transported in a professional and ethical manner in vehicles equipped with proper mortuary transportation systems.

What should I do if I am an organ donor?

Macquarie University encourages you to remain a registered organ donor as your donation may save another person's life. As age, health and lifestyle are no restriction to organ donation, many people in their 80s have saved the lives of much younger people. After organ donation, Macquarie University may still accept your body.

What happens to my body following study?

When Macquarie University has completed its anatomical examination (which may take up to eight years), your next-of-kin will be informed that your body is ready for disposal, unless requested otherwise. In case of cremation, Macquarie University will make all arrangements for cremation in accordance with your wishes (except for any tissue blocks or slides for microscopic examination that may be permanently retained or if you have consented to the permanent retention of tissue by Macquarie University). Costs of cremation will be solely borne by Macquarie University. Costs associated with burial and any memorial services, will be a private arrangement between your next-of-kin and the provider of the service and will not be covered by Macquarie University. In the case of burial, Macquarie University requests that donors purchase a pre-paid plot of their choice.

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