Frequently Asked Questions          


What needs to be done by next-of-kin to claim a decedent when transferred to the State Anatomy Board as a non-pre-registered decedent? 

Unclaimed decedents refer to individuals who arrive at the State Anatomy Board when no next-of-kin or no funeral arrangements were made.  The State Anatomy Board is contacted by medical facilities, the Chief Medical Examiners Office, or law enforcement when the next-of-kin cannot be located or are unable, at the time of death, to make funeral arrangements.

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 ​DONOR PROGRAM INFORMATION​                           

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State Anatomy Board Donors are individuals who, during their lifetime, requested a donor form, completed the donor form, ​and mailed the original signature copy of the donor form to the State Anatomy Board office.  Only pre-registered Donors are accepted and assigned donor status.


 What is the purpose of the Anatomy Board Donation Program?

To receive the body of a person who has donated his or her remains to the Anatomy Board for use in the advancement of medical research and education.

 Is there a need for body​ donations?

Yes. Donors are needed to support programs in medical education and research study

 How do I donate my body to the Anatomy Board?

By completing an Anatomy Board donor form. You may use the website, email, write or telephone the Board to request this form and any additional information.

 Are there any charges to my estate or my family for the Anatomy Board's services?

​No. All costs are paid by the State, including transportation, embalming, and cremation.

 Can a donation to the Board be made after-death by the family?

The Board typically does not accept posthumous “after death” donation. However, you may contact the Board to discuss your case.

 What if I signed an Advance Directive donating my body to science?

Advance directives for ‘donation to science’ are considered a general intent, not donation to the State Anatomy Board. To donate to the Board, you must complete a donation form. You may go to our website, email, write or telephone the Board to request this form and any additional information.

 Is there an age limit?

Yes, someone must be 18 years of age or older to donate his or her body to the Board.

 May I also donate to organ bank programs?

Yes. If you are registered with an organ bank or the Driver's License Program, keep your card with any other identification you carry.

 Suppose I die out of State?

If one of our donors dies in one of the states surrounding Maryland, the family shall incur the cost of transporting the body into Maryland and the cost of filing the death certificate and cremation certificate. The body shall be transported to the nearest funeral home inside the Maryland border. A completed death certificate from the state of death must accompany the donor. The Board will not accept or make removal without the accompanying death certificate.

If a donor dies out of state and the distance to transport is unreasonable, then the closest Medical Teaching Facility should be notified to see if they will accept donation. In this case also contact the State Anatomy Board's office.

 How may I cancel my donation?

Your donation may be cancelled at any time by writing to the Anatomy Board.

 How is the Anatomy Board notified of my ​death?

Notification to the Board is made immediately by the nursing home, hospital, or doctor in attendance. If there is no attending physician, the local police department should be contacted immediately. The Anatomy Board will arrange to have the body moved to its facility.

 What happens to the body when it is received by the Anatomy Board?

The body is prepared for use in a medical program and held until it is released for study.

 Who will use the body?

The body will be used to support research and educational study programs at medical institutions. The Board serves medical and dental schools, resident teaching programs, and other related health, education, and research study programs.

 Is a funeral service held?

No. The Anatomy Board assumes immediate custody of the body, so a funeral service with the body present is not possible. However, the family may elect to have a memorial service at any time and the Board holds an annual Memorial Service for all donors.

 What about a death notice in the newspaper?

The family may place an obituary notice, at their own expense. The newspaper will usually confirm the death with the State Anatomy Board prior to publication.

 What happens after the body has been used in a medical program?

The body is returned to the Anatomy Board and cremated.

 How long is it from the time of removal by the Anatomy Board until cremation?

In most cases, cremation will occur within a year to a year and a half, depending on when the body is released to and received back from the medical program, but this may be up to two years.​

What happens to the ashes of the cremated body?

Following cremation, the ashes are interred in a dedicated gravesite in Sykesville, Maryland.

Can the ashes be returned to the family for burial or private disposition?

Yes. You may designate on your donation form that the ashes are to be returned to the family by listing the name, address and telephone number of the person to receive them. The ashes will be returned in an urn suitable for burial or entombment.

Can I donate financially?​

Yes, we can accept willed bequests or you can directly donate financially through All funds go to support the State Anatomy Board’s medical educational and biomedical research missions.