What to Expect After a Loved One Has Died


In light of the current Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, the Anatomy Bequest Program staff will be reducing operations and placing a temporary pause on accepting whole body donations effective Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 8 AM until at least April 21, 2020. The Anatomy Bequest Program will continue to monitor the situation and provide regular updates during this period.

This is an unprecedented situation in our nation. This decision was made in order to comply with the University of Minnesota's recent extended reduced operations plan, which mandates employees to work remotely when possible in order to slow the spread of the virus so as not to overwhelm our medical system. This decision also allows the Anatomy Bequest Program to offer our inventory of personal protective equipment to healthcare providers caring for patients infected with the COVID-19 virus.

A portion of the Anatomy Bequest Program team will still report to work as needed to ensure the respectful and appropriate preservation, storage, tracking, and final disposition of the Anatomy Bequest Program donors currently with us. Other members of our team will be performing administrative functions and will be able available to answer your questions and process requests for donation information.

We are aware of the impact this may have on the community, as we know that people who decide to pre-register to become a whole body donor often make the decision years in advance of their death. In the event that our program has to decline a donation, a member of the Anatomy Bequest Program staff will be available to advise impacted family members on how to make alternative funeral arrangements.

We hope this outbreak will be short-lived. In the meantime, we hope that all of you will remain healthy and safe. Thank you for understanding and grace during this time.

Updated: 04/07/2020


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