Anatomical Donation Program (ADP)

Students who are training in the healthcare professions must have a thorough understanding of the human body. Donation of an individual's remains to a medical school enables the students to learn human anatomy from the best of all teachers... the body itself.

Today, an increasing number of people are performing a valuable service by making arrangements to donate their bodies to medical science after their death.

Below are questions asked most frequently by those considering giving their bodies to the anatomical donation program at Mercer.

Who can enroll as a donor in the Anatomical Donor Program at Mercer University School of Medicine?

The Anatomical Donor Program at Mercer University School of Medicine is regulated by the Georgia Uniform Anatomical Gift Act and is currently accepting applications only from residents of the state of Georgia, due to geographical limitations.

How will my body be used?

The Anatomical Donor Program at Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM) utilizes all donated human remains for teaching, training and instructional purposes. The majority of bodies are used for the teaching of anatomy (body structure) to MUSM medical students and other medical professionals. Other bodies are used by surgery interns and residents at the Navicent Health (formerly known as the Medical Center of Central Georgia) or Memorial University Medical Center, our affiliate hospitals, to review anatomy during their specialty training. A few bodies are used by physicians to solve biomedical problems or to develop new medical or surgical procedures.

Will it cost me anything?

Possibly. If you are within 50 miles of Macon at the time of your death, the costs for transportation, embalming and cremation will be covered by Mercer. If you are outside that 50 mile perimeter, the family or estate will be responsible for costs of transport to the Mercer University School of Medicine. To estimate the transport costs to be paid by your family or estate, multiply the distance from the location to Macon in miles by $2.25/ mile. An example of the current transport costs: Transport from Atlanta, GA for MUSM Anatomic Donors 100 miles @ $2.25/ mile = $225 Transport from Valdosta, GA for MUSM Anatomic Donors 150 miles @ $2.25/ mile = $340 Transport from Savannah, GA for MUSM Anatomic Donors 170 miles @ $2.25/ mile = $390 Even then, though, embalming and cremation will be paid by Mercer.

May my family have a memorial service for me if I donate my body to Mercer University?

Yes. However, since the donor's body must be delivered to the medical school as soon as possible after death, it is not possible to have traditional services. Thus, many donors and donor's families prefer to have a memorial service without the body, thereby celebrating the life and eulogizing the donor's spirit. With proper coordination with clergy or a funeral director, the family may arrange a memorial service at the expense of the family.

How may my family obtain the death certificate?

Your family or estate may obtain the death certificate from the contracted funeral home that does the embalming. To obtain the contact information for the funeral home, please contact the Anatomical Donation Program Director, Dr. Lee Anne Cope at 478-301-4007.

Should anyone else know about my decision to donate?

Yes. Several members of your family and your doctor should be aware of your decision to donate your remains.

Will my remains be returned from the School of Medicine?

All of the donations used at Mercer are cremated following their use. This may be up to 24 months after the death of the donor. Internment of cremated remains in the university plot or their return to the family will be according to the wishes of the donor as indicated in the ADP paperwork on file. If the family desires to make different arrangements for the disposition of the ashes, the expense of this must be provided by the donor's estate or the family.  

Once a year, to honor the donors and recognize their selfless contributions to the Anatomical Donation Program, a memorial service is held. This service is conducted by the school's chaplains, faculty and selected medical students and may be attended by the donor's family and friends.

Do I need to have a "Will" to donate my remains?

No. Anatomical donations to Mercer occur by direct enrollment with us. The information packet contains all of the necessary forms and must be filled out completely and signed by the donor and notarized.

Enrollment into the Anatomical Donation Program must be at least 90 days prior to death.

Can I donate my organs to other agencies before I donate my body?

No... with one exception. You may donate your eyes to some organization other than Mercer.

Can anything prevent my donation?

Yes. Certain diseases or infections during your lifetime can prevent your donation. There are even certain height and weight restrictions. Information regarding these restrictions is contained in the Physician Information Packet. Ask your doctor to help you determine if you are medically suited to be an Anatomical Donor. However, even enrolled individuals are sometimes turned away for various reasons. Consequently, we require that you submit the "Alternative to Anatomical Donation" form in case your desire to donate is not a possibility when the time comes.

Can my family donate my remains without my consent?

No. Individuals must enroll themselves at least 90 days prior to death. The bequeathal form must be signed by the donor and witnessed by a Notary Public.

Who should be notified of my death?

At the time of death the physician, hospital or nearest relative should immediately call the Mercer University Police at (478) 301-2970 (24-7).

May friends and/or relatives make contributions to Mercer University School of Medicine in my memory?

Yes. Gifts are tax-deductible, should be made payable to the Anatomical Donation Memorial Fund, and be directed to the Anatomical Donation Program at the address below. Alternatively, gifts may be made through the Mercer University Website via the Alumni/Giving menu. When using the latter option please direct your gift to the Anatomical Donation Memorial Fund using the "Other" option and be sure to designate "In memory of (donor's name)" in the Comments section. Gifts will be acknowledged to the donor and to your family. Funds from such gifts will be used only for medical education.

How may I leave my body to Mercer University?

You may call (478) 301-4007, or you may write to: Dr. Lee Anne Cope, Anatomical Donation Program, c/o Division of Basic Medical Sciences, Mercer University School of Medicine, 1550 College Street, Box 173, Macon GA 31207.

Anatomical Donation Program
c/o Division of Basic Medical Sciences
Mercer University School of Medicine

1550 College Street
Macon GA 31207

Thank you for your interest in the Anatomical Donation Program. Your generous donation will benefit an entire class of MUSM graduates who will go out to serve rural Georgians and carry an anatomical education that you have directly contributed to.