FAQs

1

How do I donate my body to AGA ?  

1. Discuss your decision to donate with your family.

Informing your family members and advisors of your decision is an important part of the process so that they can fulfill your wishes at the time of your death.

An important detail in the process is how the body is moved from the place of death to the AGA. Illinois law states that only a licensed funeral director can transport a body from the place of death. In addition to providing transportation of the body to the AGA, the funeral director will also work with the family or other responsible person on the necessary forms to be provided when the body is delivered to the AGA.

Different funeral homes have different charges for their services so it is important to understand the transport costs and any costs related to documentation in advance.

2. Complete a Donor Enrollment Form and Authority to Cremate Form, both of which can be found at and printed from the Donation Tab.
 
3. Contact the AGA (by telephone at (312) 733-5283 or by email info@agaillinois.org) with any questions you may have about whole body donation. The AGA staff will be happy to answer any of them.
 
4. Return the completed forms to the AGA. The association will acknowledge receipt of these forms by sending you a donor card in the mail.

5. Keep a copy of the completed forms that you have sent to the AGA in a safe place. Let family members and other trusted individuals familiar with your decision to donate your remains know the location of the forms and any other documentation related to your death, like contracts or communications with your selected funeral home. You may also wish to give a copy of the documents to the person responsible for your final arrangements. 

2

What is the procedure upon the death of the donor?

The next of kin, executor of the estate, or other responsible persons should contact a licensed funeral director who has been designated to transport the unembalmed remains and deliver associated documents to the Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois, 1540 S. Ashland Ave. Suite 104 Chicago IL 60608.

3

What about autopsies?

The AGA does not perform autopsies.

The AGA accepts autopsied remains on a limited basis. Please contact the association for further information.  

4

What body conditions prevent the AGA from accepting a donation?

The funeral director responsible for delivering the body to the AGA will know how to check with us at the time of death about the condition of the body.

Generally speaking, most remains can be accepted for medical study if there is no evidence of communicable disease. While the AGA can accept bodies with amputations, it does not accept amputated limbs or body parts. A recent unhealed surgery may also disqualify remains from study. 

5

What happens to the body after medical/scientific study is completed?

After the study is completed, the AGA picks up the remains from the institution that has studied them and delivers them to a licensed Illinois crematory for cremation in accordance with the laws and regulations of the state of Illinois. The crematory then delivers the ashes (cremains) to the AGA. The AGA then delivers the cremains as directed by the donor, the family or person responsible for the estate.

6

Can the cremains (ashes) be returned to the family?

Yes, provided advance arrangements are made. Cremains will be returned without charge. The AGA will contact the person designated to receive the cremains before sending them.
 
If there is no desire for the return of the cremains, the AGA will assume responsibility for their disposition and will inter the cremains at a licensed Illinois cemetery.

7

If the forms are filled out and the donor later has a change of mind, can the whole body donation be canceled?

Yes. The donor can cancel the donation by writing the AGA. If it is requested, the AGA will return the original, signed forms to the donor.

There is no charge or other obligation of the donor for a cancellation.

8

Does the AGA accept the remains of minor children?

No. The AGA will not accept the remains of individuals who were 18 or younger at the time of death.

The AGA will also not accept any forms from individuals who are 18 or younger. 

9

Is there an upper age limit for donations?

No. There is no upper age limit for a whole body donation. The AGA has accepted the remains of individuals who were more than 100 years old at the time of death.

10

How long are bodies studied? When can I expect cremains to be returned?

After their arrival, bodies remain at the AGA until they are needed by an institution of higher learning. A cadaver may remain at the AGA for as long as a year before they are sent to an institution for study.

On average, institutions will use the remains for two years. In some cases, studies may last three years or more. The AGA endeavors to send cremains back to families within approximately two years from the time that the AGA sent them to the institution.

If cremains are requested to be returned on the Authority to Cremate form, the AGA will contact the designated party when they are ready for the return.

We appreciate family members patience and understanding in waiting for the cremains to be returned. 

11

Is it possible to hold a funeral service if a body has been donated?

The feasibility of a funeral service is assessed, case by case. If you would like to have a service, the funeral director must contact the AGA beforehand. 

12

Can I get answers from the AGA if I have questions about whether my religion permits whole body donation?

Any questions regarding religious practices should be directed to whoever gives you religious guidance. Neither the AGA nor any of our employees can advise on religious topics. 

13

Does the AGA preserve anonymity of the deceased?

The AGA has safeguards in place to protect the anonymity of the donor and to maintain the privacy of the donor’s family. The association limits the information on the donated body that is provided to a medical school to: 1) Name of the deceased; 2) Date of Death; 3) Cause of Death; 4) AGA identification number.

Family members may request that the AGA provide additional information regarding the deceased, like medical history. If they desire to do so, they should make the request to the AGA in writing and the AGA will provide instructions on how to do so.

14

Can a body be donated to the AGA when certain organs have been donated to other organizations?

In most instances, corneas, brains and kidneys can be donated to other organizations without interfering with whole body donation. Each case is determined individually. The next of kin, executor of the estate or other responsible person must coordinate transportation of the remains to the AGA following a a donation of the organs listed above. If you would like information about donating corneas, brain, or kidneys, please visit the media contacts page to view some of the organizations that accept donations of these organs.

15

What is the cost of donating my body the AGA?

The AGA does not charge for its services.

The only costs the donor’s family or estate must pay when a whole body donation is made to the AGA are the funeral director’s charges for: 1) transporting the body from the place of death to the AGA; 2) preparation of required documentation.

Funeral director’s charges can vary. For that reason, it is a good idea to get a few quotes from a number of funeral directors. 

16

May I donate my remains to a specific institution?

The need for cadavers for scientific study is not completely predictable. The AGA cannot guarantee that remains will go to a specific institution.

The AGA will make every effort to honor the requests of donors that their remains be directed to the institution they designate. If designation of a specific institution is desired, the donor, the next of kin or representative should so indicate on the space provided in the Donor Enrollment Form.

The association does not inform the family of the specific institution to which the remains are sent. 

17

Can the arrangements to donate my body be made after I die?

Yes. At the time of death, the next of kin, executor of the estate or other responsible party can complete the paperwork necessary to make the donation. 

18

What if I die outside the state of Illinois?

The AGA will accept the remains of individuals who have died out of state.

However, the cost of interstate transport of the remains to the AGA can be significant. To avoid such costs, donating in the state in which death occurs should be considered. 

19

Will the family or estate receive a report on what the scientific study of the donated remains revealed? Will the outcome of the research on the body be communicated to the family or the estate?

Although a small number of bodies are used for specific research projects, most donations are used for anatomic and structural study. Bodies donated to the AGA are used by medical schools to demonstrate the structures of the human body. They are not used for specific research projects or experimental investigations. These studies do not yield scientific results or findings concerning cause of death or conditions existing in the body at the time of death.

20

Why do I need to call a funeral director if I am not having a funeral service?

In Illinois, the only person legally allowed to remove a dead human body from the place of death is a licensed funeral director. Additionally, a funeral director is a professional who has been trained in and understands the process and documentation required after a death takes place. For instance, the funeral director will do the following for the family: s/he transports the body directly to our facility with the required Donor Enrollment form and Authority to Cremate form; s/he secures the permits and other documentation required; s/he informs Social Security of the death; and s/he creates the death certificate for the family.

The funeral home does not handle the cremation of the donor as the AGA does that at no cost to the family.


© 2020 Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois. All Rights Reserved.
1540 S. Ashland Ave., Suite 104 
Chicago, IL 60608
Office: (312) 733-5283
Fax:     (312) 733-5079

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