Body Donation Program
At the Center for Forensic Anthropology it is our policy that our research and educational programs are conducted with a dedication to ethics, integrity, and respect for our donors. We want to assure our current donors and their families, along with our future donors that we hold ourselves, students and researchers to the highest standards of ethics and care.
Research and education at FROST and FARL are made possible by our Body Donation Program. Unlike most other donation programs - such as those at medical schools - body donations to the NMU Center for Forensic Anthropology (CFA) are permanent. This is because at its core, the CFA is a forensic anthropology research facility. All of our body donors will be curated indefinitely as part of a permanent osteological (skeletal) collection at NMU. This collection will allow for additional research opportunities in a variety of disciplines.
Please contact us if you have questions regarding the Body Donation Program. We are available 24 hours a day at (906) 362-2307.
Electronic versions of the donation paperwork are available under the Self-Donation and Next-of-Kin Donation dropdown menus. Hard copies of the paperwork may be requested by contacting the NMU Center for Forensic Anthropology at (906) 227-1144 or by e-mailing email@example.com.
Please note that while there is no cost for donating a body to the NMU Center for Forensic Anthropology, there may be costs associated with a funeral director's services (death certificate, transportation, other paperwork). All fees associated with a funeral director's services are the responsibility of the donor.
The NMU Center for Forensic Anthropology staff handle sensitive and confidential information on a daily basis. All faculty, staff, and students working at the FROST site and at FARL will be expected to abide by the Acceptable Conduct Policy. The policy can be found below. Questions or concerns can be discussed with the Director.
FROST/FARL Acceptable Conduct Policy
Benefits of Donating
Donor remains at the NMU Center for Forensic Anthropology facility will contribute to:
- NMU undergraduate research and professional development
- Scientific research to improve methods used by forensic scientists, such as:
- Forensic Pathologists
- Training for the law enforcement community:
- Taphonomy and time since death
- Search and Recovery
- Bone identification
- K-9 searches
Individuals who wish to self-donate are asked to complete the entire Self-Donation Paperwork packet, obtain the required signatures, and make copies for their records, then return the originals to the NMU Center for Forensic Anthropology via U.S. mail. Once the CFA receives the completed paperwork and the donation is approved, we will send the donor a card to be carried in his/her wallet at all times. The donor is asked to notify his/her legal next-of-kin, primary care physician, lawyer, funeral director, and any other individual who may be responsible for decisions regarding final arrangements of his/her wishes to be donated to the CFA. The CFA must be contacted within 24 hours of a donor’s death so the donation can be finalized and arrangements can be made for transportation of the donor’s body to our facility.
Legal next-of-kin who wish to donate a loved one’s body to the NMU Center for Forensic Anthropology are asked to complete the entire Next-of-Kin Donation Paperwork packet, obtain the required signatures, make copies for their records, then return the originals to the Center for Forensic Anthropology via U.S. mail. An emailed copy of the paperwork to FROST@nmu.edu is temporarily acceptable for the purpose of the evaluation of a potential donation. A donation cannot be considered unless the paperwork is complete. The CFA must be contacted within 24 hours of a donor’s death so a decision can be made regarding the donation and arrangements can be made for transportation to our facility.
Several of our donors have expressed interest in donating their bodies after death to the NMU Center for Forensic Anthropology program because of their strong connection to the University. Because of the permanent nature of our body donation program, anyone with NMU affiliation who wishes to be recognized as a “Forever Wildcat” may choose to be recognized as such.
We plan to start a “Forever Wildcats” memorial in the laboratory facility to commemorate our donors who wish to express their forever connection to NMU. While donation of one’s body to our program does not involve any fees to the donors or their families, we ask for a $20.00 donation for each “Forever Wildcat” commemorative plaque. Labels on the boxes storing the remains of the “Forever Wildcats” in our permanent collection will also be marked with the image of the NMU Wildcat logo.
To inquire further about becoming a "Forever Wildcat," please contact Director Dr. Jane Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All body donations are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and is the sole discretion of the NMU Center for Forensic Anthropology to decide whether or not a donation will be accepted. Under some circumstances, individuals who have been approved for self-donation may still be refused at the time of death, so all potential donors are encouraged to work with their families to have alternate arrangements in place. In the event that a donor cannot be accepted at the time of death, the decedent’s family or estate is responsible for costs and decisions regarding alternate arrangements. Regardless of a self-donor’s wishes and arrangements, the next-of-kin has the final say regarding what happens to a person’s body after death, so it is important for all self-donors to talk to their families and make their wishes known.
The NMU Center for Forensic Anthropology donation paperwork asks the donors for detailed health and social history. This information is essential to scientific research conducted at FROST/FARL. In order for the research to be meaningful, complete documentation of all health and social factors that may affect our observations are essential to have on file. All of the information included on the forms is provided voluntarily and to the best of the donor’s or family’s knowledge.
Donors are also asked to consider special aspects of donation, including their wishes regarding the donation of photographs, the types of research they would like to participate in (or not participate in), whether or not their bodies may be transferred to other institutions for research and teaching, and whether or not they wish to donate their brain for cancer research. All special donation considerations are completely voluntary and the donor’s choices do not affect the NMU Center for Forensic Anthropology decision to accept a donation.
All identifying information and health information is considered confidential. It is important to the integrity of our program and our research to maintain the highest of standards for the treatment of our donors throughout all donation, education, and research processes.
NMU Center for Forensic Anthropology staff is available by phone (906-227-1144) or e-mail (email@example.com) to answer any questions about the donation paperwork or our donation program.