Donating your body to science
Signify your assent
If you wish for your body to be donated when you die, follow these steps:
- Obtain an information sheet with a donor card by completing an online order form .
- Detach the donor card at the bottom of the sheet and sign it.
- Have your card signed by 2 witnesses that are 18 years old and over (spouse, child, parent, friend, etc.).
- Keep you donor card with your identification documents, your driver’s licence or health insurance card, for example.
In addition, you can ask a notary to register that you have given consent to donating your body to science in your will or mandate in case of incapacity.
Inform your next-of-kin about your decision
It is very important that your next-of-kin and entourage be aware that you have decided to donate your body to science. These people can speak on your behalf and confirm your consent when you die.
As such, when you die, your next-of-kin will know your intentions and could request that caregivers take the necessary measures. Some next-of-kin oppose donating the body merely because they have not been informed of the wishes of the deceased and are experiencing a difficult moment.
Next-of-kin can ask caregivers to take the necessary steps for donating the body even if the deceased has left no indication in this regard. Caregivers will follow procedures, and a next-of-kin must then sign a consent form.
Procedure upon Death
When the person dies, some criteria apply for the body to be accepted by recognised academic institutions. Only once an inspection of the body has been conducted by the academic institution selected by you or your next-of-kin will it be possible to decide whether or not your body can be transported to the academic institution. See Criteria for accepting a body.
Notice of death
If the death occurs at a hospital or in an health and social services facility with refrigerated storage
Next-of-kin or close relations of the deceased must notify caregivers that the person gave consent to donate their body to science. The staff know the procedures to follow.
If the death occurs at home or in an health and social services facility without refrigerated storage
Next-of-kin or close relations must contact a funeral home. The funeral home to contact depends on the academic institution selected by the deceased or their next-of-kin:
|Selected academic institution||Funeral home to contact*||Telephone number|
McGill University, Montréal
Contact McGill University
Université Laval, Québec
Coopérative funéraire des Deux-Rives
418 688-2411 (accessible 24h/24)
Université de Sherbrooke
Contact Université de Sherbrooke
Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières
Contact Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières
Collège de Rosemont, Montréal
Magnus Poirier inc.
* These funeral homes will hold the body temporarily while waiting for transfer to the selected academic institution.
Decision of the academic institution
If the academic institution chooses to accept the body, it will pick it up within 24 to 48 hours following the death. In this case, the donor’s body will not be exposed for viewing at a funeral home.
If the academic institution rejects the body, next-of-kin must proceed with burial or cremation of the donor’s cadaver. If the next-of-kin refuse to take charge of the body, the cadaver will be considered unclaimed. Someone not a next-of-kin can then come forward to claim the donor's body. Should no one come forward, the donor’s body will be cremated and the ashes buried in a mass grave.
Giving the body to an academic institution
Giving the body is done according to criteria established by the different academic institutions. They include:
- Date and place of death
- Criteria for keeping the body
- Distance to the academic institution
Arrangements for the body after it is studied
Academic institutions can keep the donor’s body for a period ranging from several months to 4 years. Afterwards, the body or the ashes are buried in a private cemetery plot at no cost to next-of-kin.
However, they can recover the donor’s ashes or the body once the study period is completed. In such instances, an agreement must be made with the academic institution in the days following the death.
With the exception of Collège de Rosemont, every year, the academic institutions organise a memorial service, in which donors’ next-of-kin are invited to take part. The date of the ceremony varies by institution.
A donor’s next-of-kin wishing for a religious ceremony or a burial in a particular place can make arrangements with a funeral home. Next-of-kin must therefore contact the company of their choice and pay for service expenses.
Last update: August 6, 2019