Can I donate my body to The University of Queensland?

Yes, provided you live and die in the Brisbane metropolitan area or the surrounding regions of the Gold Coast, Ipswich, the Sunshine Coast, and Toowoomba. This is commonly referred to as the acceptance area.

How do I donate my body to the University?

It's relatively straightforward. All you need to do is write to us confirming that you wish to leave your body, after death, to The University of Queensland for the purposes of education and research.

What happens then?

When we receive your letter we will send you a set of three forms that you will need to complete - formally stating your desire to leave your body to the University.

What do I do with the forms?

One form needs to be returned to us for our records; one should be placed with your personal papers; and another should be available to your family or someone attending to the matter following death.

I have already donated my organs; can I still donate my body?

Yes. Participation in our Body Donor Program does not require you to withdraw from registering with the Australian Organ Donor Register. Whilst you may be registered in both programs, there is no guarantee that you would be required by either program. Our future teaching requirements and the need for cadavers may vary as teaching methods and technology change.

If my organs are used by the organ donor program, could the remainder of my body be taken by the University?

No. If your organs are retrieved by that program we would be unable to receive the remainder of your body. This is due to embalming requirements and incompleteness.

Why do you need the whole body?

The circulatory system of the body needs to be intact to ensure the effectiveness of the embalming process.

If my body is not accepted by the University, who has to look after the funeral and/or cremation arrangements?

The next-of-kin would make all of the arrangements, just the same as if you had not donated your body. However, the University needs to be notified of the situation.

How does my body get to the University?

The body is collected from the place of death, by a funeral director, and transported to the University. Transfer costs are borne by the next-of-kin.

Is the cremation of the remains carried out by the University at no cost to surviving family?

The University meets the cost of the cremation of donated bodies. However any cost associated with the disposal of ashes is not borne by the University. The University will notify the nominated next-of-kin of the cremation and the crematorium contact details.

Can the ashes be disposed of by the University or must they be returned to family?

Upon completion of the cremation, the crematorium will advise the nominated next-of-kin that the ashes are available for collection or disposal. Any requests and associated costs are private arrangements between the nominated next-of-kin and the crematorium.

Do I have to tell my family?

This matter should be discussed with your close family so that they are aware of your wishes. It can be very distressing for the family if they only find out about your body donation when you die. They may not agree with the donation, but they may be prepared to honour your wish if they are aware of it before your death.

What happens if members of the family do not agree with the donation of my body to the University?

If the acceptance of your remains, after death, by the University is likely to cause any concern, stress or upset to family members, the University would prefer not to accept the body. In this case the nominated next-of-kin would be responsible for making the appropriate funeral arrangements.

What happens if I die in a car accident?

When a person dies as a result of an accident, or the cause of death is uncertain, the body may be required for an autopsy by the coroner. Under these circumstances we are unable to accept the body.

What happens if I die interstate?

The University has limited the acceptance of bodies to those of donors who reside and die in the acceptance area. It is highly unlikely that the University would be prepared to meet the additional transport costs associated with the retrieval of a body from a place of death outside the acceptance area.

Are there any age limits on donations?

Yes. We will only accept donors who are aged 18 years or older. There is no upper age limit.

What happens to the body after it goes to the University?

The body is embalmed and used in an education program where students of the medical and health care professions learn about the normal structure of the human body. Some bodies are also available for the advanced education programs for health and medical professionals. At the end of the program the bodies are cremated and the ashes made available for the nominated next-of-kin.

Can I have a funeral?

The University requires the body to be delivered as soon as possible after death. However a funeral could be conducted on the day following death and the body then delivered to the University. Alternatively, the nominated next-of-kin could arrange a memorial service without the body at any time.

Is the body given back to the family after the University has finished with it?

No. At the completion of the education program the University arranges the cremation of the body. This does not involve the nominated next-of-kin. After the cremation, the crematorium will notify the nominated next-of-kin that the ashes are available for collection or disposal.

I don't live in acceptance area; can I donate my body if I pay the transport costs?

The University receives sufficient donors from within the acceptance area to meet its needs at this time. The area of acceptance is determined by availability rather than cost.

Can I donate my body to any other institution?

Yes. Other institutions in Queensland that accept donations of whole bodies are Griffith University, QUT, and James Cook University.

Can you send me the forms for donating my body?

The forms can only be sent after we receive a written request from you, stating that you wish to will your body to the University.

My friend wants to donate her body but she is unable to write a letter; can I write it for her?

Yes, provided you include her name and address and, if possible, her signature or verified mark.

I am a solicitor; could you please send me a batch of willing forms for my clients?

No. We only send forms to nominated individuals after determining that they are resident in the acceptance area. However, you may apply on behalf of a client provided that the name and address of your client are included in your application. We will then send the forms to either your address or the client's address as indicated.

I am a solicitor drawing up a will for a client who wishes to will her body to the University. What statement should be included in the will to formalise this bequest?

A simple statement for the client - 'I bequeath my body, after death, to The University of Queensland for the purposes of education and research' - can be included in the will. However, the client or you will need to write to the University advising that she/he wishes to will her/his body to the University. Provided the person resides within the acceptance area, we will then send out the willing forms to be completed by the client. If the client also wishes to make a financial bequest to the School of Biomedical Sciences, then similar wording can be used but should also include the statement ' ... financial bequest to the School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, for use in education and research in the discipline of human anatomy'.

Please note that it is unlikely that the University will accept a body unless the donor has previously completed one of the willing forms.

Could I donate my organs for transplant etc before my body goes to the University?

You may donate your organs, but ultimately your body will not be going to the two places. It will either go to the University or the Australian Organ Donor program.

What restrictions are there on the acceptance of bodies?

The following conditions would restrict acceptance of the body:

  • Accidental death or recent surgery
  • A coroners enquiry
  • A notifiable disease or medical condition
  • A specific physical condition, obesity or emaciation
  • Conduct of an autopsy
  • Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD)
  • Death occurring outside of the acceptance area
  • Dementia
  • Neurological disorder conditions
  • Operational restrictions (including periods of non-acceptance)
  • Other conditions which may be identified as a health or safety risk to staff and students
  • Widespread cancer or tissue degenerative condition.

I intend to travel interstate for a number of years but would still like to donate my body. If I have donated my body to The University of Queensland but die in another State, can my body be given to the University in that State?

There are no reciprocal arrangements between universities that conduct body donor programs. It is suggested that you contact the body donor program coordinator in the State that you are visiting and register with them as a body donor. If you die whilst in their acceptance area, your body may be accepted by them.

How can I donate my organs for transplant purposes?

You can register online by visiting the Australian Organ Donor Register website (click here) or by collecting a registration form at any branch of Medicare. 

Related links