Ministry of the
Solicitor General

Whole body donation

Death Investigations in Ontario

Whole Body Donation

In Ontario, medical schools or Schools of Anatomy are dependent upon the generosity of persons willing to donate their bodies to train future medical professionals, enhance skill sets and expand knowledge.

Donating your body to science is different from donating organs and tissues to a living person. (For information on donating organs and tissues to a living person, please visit the Trillium Gift of Life website.) Body donation means that your whole body is donated to a Schools of Anatomy for educational and research purposes only.

It is important that you make your wishes to donate your body known to your next-of-kin. You may also indicate your wishes in your will.

Consent to donate your body can be provided in three ways:

  • By filling out a consent form (Donation of Body to School of Anatomy) available from any School of Anatomy,
  • In writing, as per section 4(1) of the Trillium Gift of Life Network Act or,
  • Orally, in the presence of at least two witnesses prior to death.

If consent has not been given prior to death, next-of-kin may give consent after death, as per section 5 of the Trillium Gift of Life Network Act.

Whole body donations are usually made to the School of Anatomy closest to the donor’s home; however, this is dependent on the particular needs of the school. It is important to remember that a School of Anatomy may refuse to accept a donation under certain circumstances. For instance, a donation may not be accepted if:

  • An autopsy was conducted.
  • Embalming occurred.
  • Amputation occurred.
  • The deceased had certain infectious diseases or was emaciated.
  • The school is not in need of donations.

NOTE: There may be additional exceptions. Please contact a school of your choice for further details.

Typically, Schools of Anatomy have an annual Service of Gratitude, which family and friends of the deceased are invited to attend. This is the School’s opportunity to honour and remember their donors and their generosity. Remains are respectfully cremated and are interred in the School’s plot or, they may be returned to the family upon request.

For further information on body donation, please contact one of the following Schools of Anatomy in Ontario:

  • Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College
    Toronto, Ontario
    Telephone: 416-482-2340
  • McMaster University
    Hamilton, Ontario
    Telephone: 905-525-9140 ext. 22273
  • Queen’s University
    Kingston, Ontario
    Telephone: 613-533-2600
  • University of Ottawa
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Telephone: 1-888-221-2993
  • University of Guelph
    Guelph, Ontario
    Telephone: 519-824-4120 ext. 56171
  • University of Toronto
    Toronto, Ontario
    Telephone: 416-978-2692
  • University of Western Ontario
    London, Ontario
    Telephone: 519-661-3014
  • University of Waterloo
    Waterloo, Ontario
    Telephone: 519-888-4567 ext. 33717
  • Northern Ontario School of Medicine
    Thunder Bay, Ontario
    Telephone: 807-766-7387
  • Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning
    Toronto, Ontario
    Telephone: 416-675-6622

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I register for register for whole body donation?

You can register for whole body donation by contacting a School of Anatomy directly.

If I donate my organs to a living person, can I give the rest of my body to a School of Anatomy?

Unfortunately, a person cannot donate their organs and then donate the rest of the body to a School of Anatomy.

Is there a fee associated with donating my body to a School of Anatomy?

Typically, the only fee involved is for transporting the body to the School of Anatomy (and other related fees). More information can be obtained by contacting a School.

My loved one just passed away and it was his/her wish to donate their body to a School of Anatomy. How do I arrange for this to take place?

Please contact a School of Anatomy directly.

For more information, you may contact the Office of the Chief Coroner at: 416 314-4000 (Toronto local) or 1 877 991-9959