Contact the Anatomy Bequest program at the University of Minnesota ( anatomy-bequest-program) to request consent authorization forms. You'll need two witnesses to sign the form in addition to your own signature.

Donors are asked to update their advanced care directive to reflect their wishes, keeping one copy in their files and sending another to the program. The university relies on donors to discuss their decision with their family members to ensure a smooth process at the end of the donor's life.

There are no costs associated with donating. The university files death certificate paperwork and covers the expense of transporting the remains and embalming.

"Families can choose a traditional funeral with the body present. At the completion, instead of burial or cremation, they come here," said Angela McArthur, director of the Anatomy Bequest program.

The university typically keeps donor remains for a year or so. Depending on next-of-kin wishes, the university will return the cremated remains or inter them in a shared grave space at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.

In addition to the U, the Mayo Clinic also operates a whole body donation program ( to support its medical education and research.

There are also a number of accredited tissue banks ( and for-profit companies that donors can choose.

While some who choose whole body donation prefer to keep their wishes private, others include the decision in their death notice.

"Often obituaries are written by the family and it's a badge of honor, something they're proud of. It helps get them through," McArthur said. "I love the thought that this is viewed as one of the accomplishments of a life."

Kevyn Burger