Is the donation of my body to MCW legally binding or can my family next-of-kin or representative go against my wishes?
If at the time of death, the family or next-of-kin wishes to make other arrangements with donor remains, it is the policy of the Medical College of Wisconsin's Anatomical Gift Registry to comply with the wishes of the donor’s loved ones.
What should my family or next-of-kin do at the time of my death?
Contact the Anatomical Gift Registry at the Medical College of Wisconsin by calling (414) 955-8261, with service available 24 hours a day.
Who should I make aware of my wish to be a body donor?
Your next of kin or designated responsible party should be informed of the arrangements you have made and is also required to sign the donation form. You may also choose to inform your family, doctor and attorney of your wishes. You do NOT need to include the bequest in your will, as a will may not be read in time for the delivery of the body to the Medical College of Wisconsin. It is more important to have this information readily available on a wallet card or copy of your donation application to parties of interest.
Can my family view my body after death at the Medical College of Wisconsin?
No. Viewing of the donor’s body is not possible at the Medical College of Wisconsin. It may be possible to arrange a private viewing and/or visitation at a funeral home, at the family’s expense if coordinated with the Anatomical Gift Registry staff.
Can I choose the type of medical research for which my donation is used?
Since body donations are used in research on an as-needed basis, potential donors cannot designate their donations be used for any specific research purposes.
How would my family or responsible party obtain a death certificate?
A death certificate is prepared and mailed to the attending physician for signature. Once signed, it is returned to the Anatomical Gift Registry to be filed. The certificate is then filed with the local registrar in the county where the death occurred. Certified copies of the death certificate can then be purchased through that local registrar.
Can a body be donated if the individual did not specify that wish before he or she died?
Enrollment in the AGR is open to all Wisconsin residents aged 18 years and older. The spouse or next of kin of a decedent may facilitate donation of their loved one’s remains if they were not registered with the AGR prior to passing.
Will MCW conduct research as to the cause of my death and provide a report?
The Medical College of Wisconsin’s Anatomical Gift Registry does not perform autopsies, determine the cause of death, nor provide a report regarding the donor’s cause of death. At the time of death, the attending physician must sign a death certificate, unless the matter falls under the jurisdiction of the medical examiner. The death certificate will document the cause of death.
Can ashes be exhumed after being buried?
Ashes buried in our cemetery plot will not be exhumed under any circumstances or situation.
Can my family have a funeral before my body is brought to MCW?
Generally, yes. However, the funeral director MUST first contact our office. Failure to follow the explicit directions of the Anatomical Gift Registry in such cases could prevent the intended donation from occurring.
Will there be a memorial service?
Yes. The medical students organize an annual memorial service where family and friends are invited to attend. With genuine respect and admiration of the selfless donors, who were their teachers; the students, faculty and staff feel grateful to be able to pay tribute, meet and say thank you to the donor’s families and friends. The ceremony is held at the Medical College of Wisconsin Campus.
What should my next-of-kin do if my body is declined for donation?
Your responsible party should proceed with your secondary plan. It is the donor’s estate, next -of -kin or authorized person’s responsibility to make final arrangements if the intended donor's body is declined.
When available, can my loved ones claim the ashes for private burial?
Yes. Please refer to the donor form
for more information.