Body Donations

Donating your body to the University of Dundee

At Dundee University bodies donated to medical science are used for:

  • Anatomical examination: This means the teaching of the structure and function of the human body to students or healthcare professionals
  • Education and training: This means the training of healthcare professionals, usually those learning surgical techniques, as opposed to anatomical examination
  • Research: This involves scientific studies designed to improve the our understanding of the human body in health and disease

It is not possible to elect to donate your body for research purposes alone and you should also note that we cannot guarantee that a donated body will always be accepted after death; this is due to a number of factors.

If you would like to obtain the necessary bequest declaration form and information notes to register as a donor, or you have any questions relating to body donation at Dundee, please contact:

Mrs Vivienne McGuire, Centre for Anatomy & Human Identification, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 5EH. Tel 01382 388825 or email

It is essential that you discuss your wishes with your next of kin /executor so at the time of your death they are aware of your wish to donate your body to medical science and take the necessary steps to ensure your wishes are carried out wherever possible.


1. Is there an age limit?

In Scotland anyone over the age of 12 can choose to donate their body to medical science. There is no upper age limit.

2. What happens once the University are finished with my body?

Universities are permitted by law to retain a body for up to 3 years. If you give permission at the time of donation it is also possible for universities to retain parts of the body for a longer period of time. The university holds an annual service for donors to which families are invited to attend.

3. Can I choose to be buried or cremated?

University of Dundee only offers cremation but if burial is preferred, the cost of this would require to be paid by the donor’s estate. Families will always be able to receive ashes after cremation has taken place for private internment.

4. What if I am on the organ donor register?

Registering to be an organ donor and for body donation means that both of these options can be considered at point of death. For this reason, we would encourage anyone to register for both. However, at the point of your death if you donate an organ, it is not possible to donate your whole body to a University.

5. Can my family override my decision?

It is extremely important to discuss your wishes with your next of kin in order that they can carry out your wishes equipped with the necessary knowledge and understanding of what is involved. We are very conscious of avoiding any additional distress to bereaved families, therefore, if we are made aware of a strong objection from the next of kin, the department will not accept a body for donation.

6. Who will meet the funeral costs?

If a body is accepted then the university will take responsibility for cremation costs.

Donors should ensure that they have an alternative funeral plan should acceptance prove not to be possible.

7. I registered with my local university quite a few years ago, will it still be valid?

Yes, although there have been some legislative revisions in recent years your original application is still valid. However, you may wish to check that your name is on our bequest register.

8. I registered with my local university but I have now moved to a different area within Scotland. Do I need to re-register with my new local university?

This is desirable, but not strictly necessary. At the time of your death your next of kin would be able to contact your nearest university anatomy department, who would be able to contact your previous university to request your bequeathal paperwork.

9. What if I don’t have any next of kin?

If you don’t have any family then next of kin can be a friend or a nominated person such as a carer or GP.

10. What legislation relates to donating your body to medical science?

The Anatomy Act (1984) as amended by the Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006 is the legislation which details the legal requirements surrounding the donation of a body to medical science.

11. What if I change my mind?

If you change your mind and decide you no longer wish to be a donor please contact the department to let them know.

12. My question hasn’t been answered here…

Please contact Vivienne McGuire on:

Tel 01382 388825 or email