Monday Breakdown: Donating a body to science

January 01, 2013

In a recent Mail Call, an anonymous reader asked: “I’d like to donate my body to science. Could someone tell me who to get in touch with about this?”

The Anatomy Board of Maryland is one possibility.

The board’s website says donors can get a form by calling 410-547-1222 or 1-800-879-2728 or writing to State Anatomy Board, Bressler Research Building, Room B-026, 655 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore, MD 21201-1559.

Anyone at least 18 years old is eligible.

After a donor dies, a nursing home, hospital or attending doctor will contact the Anatomy Board, which will arrange to collect the body.

“The body will be used to support research and educational study programs at medical institutions. The Anatomy Board serves medical and dental schools, resident teaching programs, and other related health, education, and research study programs,” the board’s website says.

After a medical program uses the body, it will be returned to the Anatomy Board and cremated. The ashes will be interred at a dedicated grave site in Sykesville, Md.


Bob Bloyer of Hagerstown pointed out on Monday that ashes also can be returned to the donor’s family, if requested.

He and his wife, Ruth, both signed up to donate their bodies. After Ruth died and her body was used for research and cremated, he had her ashes buried at a local cemetery, he said.

Another option is the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., which describes itself as “the Nation’s federal health sciences university ... committed to excellence in military medicine and public health during peace and war.”

“The majority of the bodies which come to the School of Medicine will be used for teaching anatomy,” the USUHS website says. “Other bodies are used by physicians to review anatomy in connection with special training for surgery. A few bodies are used by physicians in research aimed at the solution of problems or the development of new medical or surgical procedures.

USUHS can be reached at 301-295-3301 (weekdays, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.) or 301-295-3333 (emergency/imminent donations, 24 hours a day).

The body must be intact. It isn’t eligible if there has been an autopsy.

— Andrew Schotz

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