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SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

Department of Cell Biology

Anatomical Gift Program

In spite of the many advances in medical technology, there is nothing that can surpass the human body in giving medical students their foundation of knowledge in anatomy. The study of the human body provides the basic understanding of body structures, their functions, their relationships to one another, and the basis for understanding when the body systems fail to function properly. The Anatomical Gift Program at SUNY Health Science Center, Brooklyn, allows an individual to make a lasting and meaningful contribution to medical education by furthering the study of the human body. A bequest to the program contributes to the advancement of medical learning and research, and helps physicians to develop essential knowledge.

Many people appreciate the fact that donating their body to medicine is a way of serving humanity even after death and, in addition, there is the added benefit of relieving surviving family members of the financial burden of funeral expenses.

If you are interested in pledging a donation, please contact us at SUNY Health Science Center, Brooklyn. Your bequest to Our Anatomical Gift Program will help ensure the future of high quality medical care and innovative research. Your donation is a thoughtful and magnanimous gift that provides physicians and research scientists with the opportunity to gain knowledge, which may prolong or improve the lives of others.


Who can donate?

Any person over 18 years of age can bequeath his or her body to a medical, dental, or other health related professional school for the purpose of medical research and education under the Department of Health, State of New York's, Uniform Anatomical Gift Act.

Must an attorney be notified to donate my body to medical science?

No. This type of gift does not have to be written into your will. You should complete "donor cards", and sign them in the presence of a witness. (Anyone over the age of 18 years may act as your witness). Complete the donor cards according to the instructions and return them to SUNY Downstate at Brooklyn.

Do I have to be pre-registered to participate in the Donor Program?

No. The decision to donate the body of a loved one can be made at the time of death by the nearest next-of-kin.

What happens to my body after medical studies are complete?

All donated bodies are cremated. Your family will be given three options for the disposition of the cremains:

  1. The cremains can be buried in a common grave in Forest Park Green Cemetery, Morganville, NJ, along with other donors.
  2. The cremains can be scattered at sea.
  3. The cremains can be returned to the family for them to dispose of as they wish. The cremains are returned via Parcel Post (unless otherwise indicated) in a shipping container.

Will there be any expenses for donating my body to SUNY Downstate?

SUNY Downstate will assume all costs for transportation (unless the death occurs outside the 5 boroughs of New York City or adjacent counties), embalming, storage, cremation, and shipping the cremains to the family. There will be no cost to the family for the scattering of cremains at sea or the interment of cremains at Forest Park Green Cemetery. However, if the family chooses to purchase an urn, have a private memorial service, or inter the cremains in a family plot, these costs will be the responsibility of the family.

Will my name be recorded at the gravesite at Forest Green Park Cemetery?

No. In order to respect the privacy and anonymity requested by some individuals, the names of donors do no appear at the gravesite. However, the name of each donor and gravesite location is recorded in a log located in the cemetery office.

Can I also be an organ donor if I donate to medical study?

You may donate your eyes for transplantation, but other organs (e.g. heart, kidneys, lungs) may not be removed.

Can I donate someone else's body, e.g., my wife or husband?

This cannot be done while the person is living. However, at the time the death occurs (regardless of whether or not you are pre-registered) the nearest next-of-kin to the deceased may donate the body of their loved one.

If I move away from this area what happens to my donation?

If you live within a 100-mile radius of SUNY Downstate, your donation is still welcome. If you move beyond that area please notify us and we will discuss with you the available options; one if which would be to help you contact a medical school in your new area of residence.

What if I change my mind?

Donors are free to change their minds and revoke their gift at any time without question.

Will my family be able to view my body one more time when medical studies are completed?

No. The cremation will take place upon completion of the medical study.

Will my family have access to any of the findings produced by the medical studies?

No. All results are kept completely confidential at all times, and to any and all inquires, to protect the anonymity of ore donors. 

If you would like more information, please call the Anatomical Gift Program at 718-270-1419.