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Burial, Cremation and Anatomy Team
Scottish Government
St Andrew's House (3EN)
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

0131 244 4387

Body Donation in Scotland

Donating your body to medical science in Scotland

In Scotland, bodies donated to medical science are used for:

  • Anatomical examination: This means the teaching of the structure and function of the human body to students or healthcare professionals
  • Education and training: This means the training of healthcare professionals, usually those learning surgical techniques, as opposed to anatomical examination
  • Research: This involves scientific studies designed to improve the our understanding of the human body in health and disease

It is not possible to elect to donate your body for research purposes alone, however if this is something you feel strongly about, for example assisting with research into a specific disease, please see the FAQ section for further information.

Please note that university anatomy departments cannot guarantee that a donated body will always be accepted after death, this is due to a number of factors please see the FAQ section if you require any further information.

If you have any further questions about the process of body donation, what will happen after your death, what arrangements can be made once the anatomy department has completed its work or anything else relating to body donation in Scotland please see the FAQ section.

What you need to do next

If you are keen to proceed there are three things you will need to do:

Step 1 - Discuss your wishes with your next of kin:

It is essential that you discuss your wishes with your next of kin / executor, this is so that at the time of your death they are aware of your wish to donate your body to medical science and take the necessary steps to ensure your wishes are carried out wherever possible.

Step 2 – Contact your nearest University:

There are five Universities with anatomy departments who receive bodies donated to medical science:

  • Aberdeen
  • Dundee
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • St Andrews

It is normal practice to donate your body to the University closest to your home in order to avoid any additional transportation costs being incurred by your estate.

You should contact the bequest co-ordinator at the University of your choice, they will discuss the process with you; answer any questions you may have; and ensure that you receive the legal paperwork (the declaration of bequest application) you are required to sign, and return to the University, in order for bequeathal to proceed after your death.

If you have any specific health issues please discuss these with the bequest coordinator as your suitability as a donor may be affected. It is important to note however that final decisions about whether a body can be accepted cannot be made until time of death.

The contact details for all five Universities are available via the University Contact Details page.

Step 3 – Include your wishes in your will

It may also be helpful to include your wish to donate your body to medical science in your will, in order to assist your next of kin / executor in carrying out your wishes. This must be an official testified will lodged with your solicitor.

In the case of adults, the declaration of your wish should be countersigned by one witness. In the case of those aged between 12 and 18 the declaration must be witnessed by two adults, who must also confirm that the individual understood the effect of the authorisation and was not acting under undue influence.

Further Information

If you require any further information please see the FAQs or use the University Contacts Details page to get in touch with the relevant school.