Bequeathal Program

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Body donation for the purpose of anatomical examination and education is a unique gift that makes a vital contribution to the training of healthcare professionals and helps the entire community.

UNSW is extremely grateful for the kindness of donors and their families whose generous gift contributes significantly to the advancement of medical education and research.

Donors are guaranteed that their loved ones remains will be treated with dignity, respect and anonymity. Our students are aware of the special privilege granted to them and they conduct themselves in a professional manner during their study of the human body.

FAQs

Find answers to a range of questions about organ/body donation.

  • The procedure for donating your body to UNSW Sydney is explained in the Donor Information Statement. If you decide to donate your body after reading the Donor Information Statement, please fill out the Consent Form and return one signed copy to the UNSW Bequeathal Program. The forms will need to be completed and signed by: 

    • yourself
    • your next of kin or executor 
    • a witness.

    We suggest you keep a copy with your will. 

    Once the Consent Form has been received and approved by the Bequeathal Program, the donor will be sent a donor card and letter of acknowledgment. The donor’s details will be held in a confidential database. The completed form must be lodged with and accepted by the UNSW Bequeathal Program prior to death. 

    It is important that you read this Donor Information Statement carefully before you complete and return the Consent Form.

  • Immediately upon notification of your death, and subject to circumstances which allow the University to accept your donation, the University will make all necessary arrangements and meet all expenses in connection with the removal and transport of your body within the Sydney metropolitan area. We'll undertake tests on blood from your body to confirm you have not acquired an infectious disease. This is to protect staff working with your body. The UNSW Bequeathal Program will not show the nature of the results to any third party. However, you should be aware that if testing reveals a reportable infectious disease (such as HIV), then we're legally obliged to report this to public health authorities who may then contact your close family contacts if they consider it's in the interest of public health to do so. 

    When anatomical examination has been completed, the University will arrange for your remains to be cremated and will meet the expenses of these arrangements. Please be aware that when the ashes become available for your loved ones, arrangements should be made by your next-of-kin to have the ashes collected from the crematorium. The University does not undertake to erect a headstone or memorial plaque. If in any case, your next-of-kin is unable to be contacted, the ashes are returned to and kept at UNSW Sydney for three years. After this period, the ashes will be scattered in the memorial garden at the crematorium.

  • Your family cannot donate your body. The donor should have the ability to give informed consent and should be a registered donor with the UNSW Bequeathal Program before death. We do not accept next of kin donations.

    • Obesity or emaciation (extreme slenderness).
    • Outside of accepted weight range (e.g., below 50kg or above 90kg).
    • Have infectious diseases (e.g., Tuberculosis (TB), HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD), antibiotic resistant bacterial infections such as MRSA, dementia of unknown cause, or a suspected communicable disease).
    • If a donor’s body has been significantly altered by certain medical conditions including recent amputation surgery within weeks prior to death, organ donation and autopsy.
    • If death occurred more than 24 hours before notification to the University.
    • Limited storage within the University facility.
    • Planned University shutdowns (e.g., Christmas/New Year break).
  • Please note that due to these factors, a signed Consent Form intending donation does NOT guarantee acceptance of your body at the time of death. The University is not liable for any costs incurred through the rejection of a donation for any reason.

  • UNSW Sydney is entitled to keep your body (and tissues) for four years from the date of death. UNSW may apply to an Inspector appointed by the NSW Minister of Health under the Anatomy Act (Anatomy Inspector) for an extension of this period for up to a further four years. We must dispose of your body after four years, or if an extension is approved by the Anatomy Inspector, at the end of the extension period (which must end no later than eight years after the date of your death).

  • Kindly note that while the University values your offer, circumstances may arise which will prevent the acceptance of your body. Please refer to the Donor Information Statement for further details of the circumstances that may prevent acceptance. Once again, we regret that we are unable to guarantee acceptance of a donation at this stage, as there can be a gap of several years between bequeathal and receipt of a body, and circumstances can change in such a period.

  • To be eligible to donate your body, a donor must:

    • be aged 18 years and over
    • have ability to give informed consent
    • reside within the Sydney Metropolitan Area
    • have not spent six (6) months or more within the United Kingdom between the years 1980 to 1996 
    • have not received a blood transfusion in the UK since January 1980.
  • Unless you have consented to permanent retention of tissues taken from your body, UNSW Sydney will arrange for your remains to be cremated at the end of four years (or any extended period up to eight years that the Anatomy Inspector has approved) and will meet the cremation expenses. Your ashes will then be available for collection by the person nominated by you. Please note that UNSW Sydney does not create a headstone or memorial plaque for its donors.

    It is important that your next of kin keeps us updated with their contact details so that we can contact them during cremation (or anytime in the eight years the donor is kept at our facility).

    Please be aware that if we’re unable to contact your next of kin within a period of three years following cremation, the University will arrange for the cremated ashes to be scattered in the Crematorium Memorial Gardens.

  • Next of kin or Executor: To ensure that your wishes in this matter are observed and that your family is aware of your intentions to donate after death, it is desirable that you discuss your intentions with your next of kin or executor who must sign your Consent Form.

Memorial Garden

If the next of kin requests the ashes of a donor, they'll be notified at the time of cremation. If the ashes don't have to be returned to the next of kin, they'll be interred in the Macquarie Park Crematorium Gardens. If a donor or their family prefers burial, all added costs associated with this will need to be covered by the donor’s estate, next of kin or executor.

Contact

If you're interested in donating your body or have any questions about our Bequeathal Program, please contact Aarathi Venunadan.

Aarathi Venunadan

Phone: (02) 9385 2480

Mail:
Bequeathal Program
School of Biomedical Sciences
UNSW Sydney
Sydney NSW 2052

Email: bequeathal@unsw.edu.au