Body donations program

Body donations program

Macquarie University offers a Body Donation Program through the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. This Program accepts donations of human bodies to provide an invaluable contribution to the training of medical professionals and the advancement of scientific and medical knowledge.

The Body Donor Program depends entirely on the generosity of individuals who wish to donate their bodies and thereby make an important contribution to the advancement of medicine.

Contact us

For more information on the program, please contact the Body Donation Coordinator or use the link to request an information pack.

Body Donation Coordinator
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
2 Technology Place,
Macquarie University NSW 2109
P: +61 (2) 9812 3543 or +61 (2) 9812 3535
F: +61 (2) 9812 3600

Program overview

Who can donate

You must be 18 years old or over to be accepted into the program. There is no upper age limit.

A body donation can only be accepted if you die within New South Wales.

Reasons that may invalidate your donation are as follows:

  • Medical reasons: Certain circumstances will preclude Macquarie University from accepting the donation of a human body, including if the donor:
    • Has certain communicable diseases (e.g. all strains of hepatitis, AIDS/HIV, tuberculosis) or antibiotic resistant bacterial infections such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA);
    • Has Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (VCJD) or rapid onset dementia of undetermined nature;
    • Resided in the UK between 1980 and 1996 for a total (cumulative) time of 6 months or more;
    • Received blood transfusions in the UK since 1 January 1980;
    • Cannot be transferred to the University within 48 hours of death;
    • Is unsuitable for various other reasons (eg severe obesity (> 100kgs) or emaciation (< 40 kgs), tissue deterioration).
  • If there is insufficient space within the anatomy facility for the correct storage of your body;
  • If any of your next-of-kin object;
  • For any other reason that Macquarie University determines.

Determining whether your body can be accepted for donation can only be made at the time of your death as the cause of death may render the donation unusable for study.

How the program works

  • Contact the Body Donation Coordinator by phone or email and we will send you an information package about the program as well as registration forms. Alternatively, you may download the forms;
  • When you sign and return the consent forms, we will send you a letter of acknowledgement to notify you that you have been registered as a donor, as well as a Body Donor Card for your wallet or purse;
  • When you pass away the University will be notified by your nominated next of kin or nursing/medical staff;
  • If your body is deemed to be in suitable condition, transport to Macquarie University will be organised;
  • A blood test will then be performed to test for any pathogens, the absence of which will lead to full acceptance into the program;
  • At the conclusion of the teaching process your remains will be respectfully cremated at the University's expense;
  • According to your wishes at the time of consent, your ashes will either then be made available to the next of kin or interred in the gardens of the crematorium.

What to do after death

The following steps are provided to guide the next of kin in making arrangements after the death of someone who has registered with the Body Donation Program.

1. Request certificates from the doctor

Death at a nursing home / person's home

If the death is at a nursing home or in the donor's own home, ask the medical practitioner who was responsible for the person's medical care immediately before death or who examines the body of a deceased person after death, to provide a:

  • Medical Certificate of Cause of Death;
  • Attending Practitioner's Cremation Certificate.

Death at a hospital

If the death is in a hospital, ask the designated medical officer for a:

  • Medical Certificate of Cause of Death;
  • Attending Practitioner's Cremation Certificate;
  • Consent and Authority for Removal of Tissue after Death.

2. Contact the Body Donation Coordinator

Contact the Body Donation Coordinator at Macquarie University, who will ask you for initial details about the donor, such as where they are, how they died, their weight, and whether they had any infections.

Send the Body Donation Coordinator the above certificates by email or fax, or if you cannot send the certificates please advise us of the doctor's contact details. We will determine if there are any conditions that could prevent the University from accepting the donation, such as insufficient capacity, whether transport can be arranged within 24-48 hours, closure periods etc.

If the donation cannot proceed, the Body Donation Coordinator will suggest that you contact another institution's body donation program (if consent has been given for this). Otherwise, you will need to make alternative funeral arrangements.

3. Make arrangements with the funeral director

  • If the donation can proceed, the Body Donation Coordinator will contact Manning's Funeral Service and give them your contact details. A funeral director will contact you to arrange transport to Macquarie University.
  • You will need to provide the certificates to the funeral director, as these must accompany the body.


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:

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.


To register for the Body Donation Program:

  • Read the full information package;
  • Complete and return the application forms.

Download the Body Donation Program information package

Once your enrolment has been registered, you will be sent a Body Donor Card to keep in your wallet/purse. A copy of your application forms will be sent to both you and your next-of-kin.

You should inform your family, nurse, doctor in attendance or nursing home administrator of your intentions.

If you change your mind and wish to rescind your donation, please complete and return a Revocation of Consent form.

Content owner: Medicine and Health Sciences Last updated: 21 Dec 2018 1:00pm

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