What to Expect After a Loved One Has Died


After a hiatus, the Anatomy Bequest Program will be accepting body donations of registered individuals in a limited capacity beginning June 10, 2020.

The Anatomy Bequest Program has a duty to protect the health and safety of staff, researchers, faculty, and learners by screening potential donors for several serious communicable diseases including COVID-19.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Anatomy Bequest Program will not be able to accept the donation of individuals who meet any of the following conditions:

  • Diagnosis of COVID-19 infection (including probable, suspected, and confirmed cases)
  • Within 28 days of their death:
    • Diagnosis of pneumonia, bronchitis, influenza (flu), or Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)
    • Diagnosis of sepsis or septic shock
    • Exposure to COVID-19 (having been exposed to a person with COVID-19 who either visited, worked, provided healthcare for, or lived with the potential donor while they were contagious)
    • Travel by air carrier

In addition to COVID-19 related restrictions, the Anatomy Bequest Program is accepting donations on a limited basis to adjust to the needs of our stakeholder community.  It is likely that the need for body donors within the University of Minnesota system, and within external research and academic institutions, will be evolving over the course of this pandemic. The Anatomy Bequest Program’s ability to return to normal donation capacity is based on these needs and several other factors, including the timeline and eventual end of this outbreak. For current restrictions, please contact us by telephone at 612-625-1111 or email at bequest@umn.edu.

The decisions behind these changes were difficult to make. The Anatomy Bequest Program team appreciates that our donors often plan to donate to science and education years in advance of their deaths. In order to assist our community, a member of our team will be available to advise those impacted by these changes in how to make alternative funeral arrangements. The Funeral Consumers Alliance of Minnesota is a resource aiding in researching and creating funeral and/or final arrangement plans, which can be reached at info@fcaofmn.org or by website.

We thank you for your support and patience during this time and hope that all of you will remain healthy and safe.

Updated: 01/22/2021


The exact donation timeframe is dependent upon the scheduling and completion of various courses and research projects, and can be as short as two months or as long as eighteen months.

When will I be contacted by Anatomy Bequest Program staff

You can expect us to contact you at various intervals which are somewhat dependent upon which final disposition method you have selected.

  1. The first contact our staff will have with you generally occurs within a day after the death of your loved one. During this conversation, our staff member will need to collect vital statistics information in order to generate a death certificate (see Death Certificate Information). Our staff member will also ask a series of detailed medical history questions about your loved one in order for the Anatomy Bequest Program to provide as much medical information to faculty, students and researchers as possible.
  2. An Anatomy Bequest Program staff member will contact you when your loved ones’ death certificate is completed and available at the Office of Vital Records.
  3. Six weeks before the Anatomy Bequest Program Service of Gratitude, you will receive an invitation to attend the service.
  4. You will receive a card around the one year anniversary of your loved ones’ death. This will be the last contact you will receive from us if you opted for the Anatomy Bequest Program to inter your loved ones’ cremated remains in Lakewood Cemetery.
  5. A member of our staff will contact you in the event an educator or researcher has a particular need to extend the timeframe beyond eighteen months. If so, you will receive a telephone call requesting extension permission.
  6. If you opted to have your loved ones’ remains returned at the completion of the study, the final contact you will receive will be a letter notifying you of the completion of our study and requesting you to contact us to arrange for the return of the donor’s cremated remains (or body, if earth burial was selected). 
Contact Anatomy Bequest Program

3-102 Nils Hasselmo Hall
312 Church Street SE Minneapolis, MN 55455-0215

Office: 612-625-1111 | Fax: 612-625-1688
Email: bequest@umn.edu