Body Donation Program FAQS
1. What are the advantages of registering with the Body Donation Program?

When a death occurs, your next-of-kin is legally responsible for your body.  Making arrangements in advance will help your family decide what to do next during a very stressful time for them.  Before registering for the program, we recommend discussing your wishes with your family and have their support.  In the event a next-of-kin were to have any hesitation or object to the donation, your wishes may not be carried out, and we recommend you do not assign your body to the program. 

2. Is there an age restriction?

Anyone over the age of 18 years is eligible to donate their body.  There is no maximum age.

3. Can next-of-kin or an executor authorize for donation for a deceased person who has not previously registered to the Body Donation Program?

Yes, any person who legally has custody of your body and is over the age of 18 years may make the donation.  However, it is preferred to have the donors signed consent on file indicating their willingness to participate in our program.

4. Can I change my mind regarding donation of my body?

Yes, you may change your mind to donate your body at any time.

Please let your next-of-kin know of your final decision.

We also ask that you inform the Body Donation Program in writing to remove your assignment forms from our files.

5. Will I automatically be accepted into the Service After Death Program when I die?

No.  The University of Manitoba greatly appreciates everyone who is willing to donate their body, however, the decision of acceptance into the program is not determined until the actual time of death. Therefore, you should also make your next-of-kin aware of alternate arrangements should you not be accepted into the body donation program.

6. What circumstances might cause my body to not be accepted into the program at the time of death, even if I have signed up for the body donation program?

We undertake an extensive embalming process, which far exceeds that performed by funeral homes. We do this to ensure that we can continue to use the body for teaching over an extended period of time, which can run upwards to four years. As a result, the condition of the body at the time of death, your medical history leading up to the death and previous case histories are all important considerations in deciding whether a donation is to be accepted. 

Examples of specific conditions which would make a donation unacceptable are:

  • an autopsy has been scheduled for or already performed.
  • has already been embalmed.
  • death has occurred outside the 322 KM radius of Winnipeg.
  • If organs and / or tissues have been removed for transplantation. However, we will accept bodies from which the corneas have been donated to the Lions Eye Bank of Manitoba.
  • Donors under the age of 18 years.
  • Excessive Edema.
  • Scleroderma and/or other autoimmune diseases.
  • Infectious or Contagious diseases (i.e. Hepatitis- any type, Septicemia, Bacterial Meningitis, A.I.D.S. /H.I.V., Tuberculosis,Shingles, M.R.S.A., VRE, ESBL).
  • Natural deterioration of the body; where more than 72 hours post death even if the body has been refrigerated.
  • Deterioration of the body; where more than 8 hours post death have passed if a body has not been refrigerated.
  • Delay of notification of death.
  • If the family are in disagreement with the donation.
  • Extensive internal pathology, numerous past surgeries, organ or tissue removal.
  • Major amputations.
  • Major deformities or severe limb contracture.
  • Severe burn or tissue damage.
  • Death by accident involving major trauma, or by suicide.
  • Increased or decreased Body Mass Index (BMI) as determined by the Department.

7. I have cancer and upon my death wish to donate my body to further the cause of cancer research and I think my body would be of great benefit to research?

The primary focus of the body donation program is in teaching the structures and functions of the human body. Researchers unfortunately do not have access to confidential case histories of donors.

8. My relative has a rare disease and we are wondering if they donate their body, will we get some kind of report as to the nature or extent of the disease?

Again, our primary focus is in teaching structure and functions anatomy of the human body and so we are unable to provide that kind of service.  Families wishing to gain more knowledge about their family members illness or condition may wish to seek an autopsy which can be arranged through their family doctor and at the hospital which specializes in this area.

9. When a death occurs of a potential donor who should the family, caregiver or next-of-kin call?

When the death occurs you should contact the Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Sciences Service After Death program coordinator to determine acceptability into the program at (204) 789-3652. Normal business hours are 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday to Friday. If a death occurs outside normal business hours, please leave a detailed message. Furthermore, the body must be stored under proper cooling conditions. If the deceased cannot be kept under proper cold refrigeration beyond 8 hours following death or requires immediate removal, please call Winnipeg Funeral Transfer Service at 204-956-2882 or Toll Free 1-877-956-2882 to arrange for transportation to their holding facility.   Please note that the transfer service does not make the decision on acceptance of a donor.  

10. When would we normally find out if a donation will be accepted?

The decision to accept will be given after completion of a medical history checklist and upon discussion with the attending nurses, caregivers or next-of-kin at the time of death.

11. What does the hospital or care center need to do when a death occurs regarding a potential donor?

If the body has been accepted, the body should be prepared in the same fashion as would be done for a funeral home including documentation.   Upon acceptance the Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Science will make the necessary arrangements for transportation of the body to the university.

12. What if death occurs outside of Winnipeg?

If a death occurs outside the 322 KM radius of Winnipeg please be aware that the body will not be accepted into the Service After Death Program.

13. What expenses if any are involved upon the death of a donor?

The expenses incurred in transporting the body to the Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Science, up to a maximum of $75.00, will be covered by the university.  The total costs for the cremation and interment at Brookside Cemetery will also be covered by the University.  Cost for transportation beyond the $75.00 limit will be the responsibility of the family, next-of-kin or executor of the deceased.  If the body is transported from outside of Winnipeg, the family or next of kin will be responsible for paying mileage charges ($1.50/km) round trip.

14. What is the difference between whole body donation and organ / or tissue donation?

Whole body donation is when you give your body to medical education for teaching purposes.  Organ and tissue donation is when you give your organs and or tissues to be transplanted into someone that needs them.

15. I've signed the donor card on my Manitoba Driver's License - am I registered for the program?

No.  You must complete a Registration Form and send it in to the Department in order to be registered.  You will receive a letter of confirmation once your registration form is received.

16. What is done with my body after studies have been completed?

The body is cremated with all parts it was donated in to our program and the remains are placed into individual urns.

17. How does the university contact us regarding the memorial service or to pick up the cremated remains if we have moved?

Contact is made directly with your next-of-kin via mail and/or phone based on the information gathered at the time of the arrangements.  It is the responsibility of the next-of-kin to inform us of any changes to their contact information.

18. What happens with the cremated remains if the family cannot be contacted?

In cases where families have not maintained updated contact information we will hold the cremated remains for a period of one year after cremation and will inter the cremated remains in the university plot at the next memorial service.

19. How would my privacy be protected?

We protect the privacy and dignity of all bodies that are donated.  Faculty and Students are only given the age and gender of a body if it’s deemed necessary for their studies.

20. Can I be assured that my remains will be handled properly?

All bodies donated to the university are always treated with the utmost dignity and respect.