In The News

Helping medical education could pay for your funeral

Helping medical education could pay for your funeral

DECIDING to donate your remains after you pass away to help medical education can also be a way of getting a ‘free’ funeral.

This is because funeral costs will be covered by the authorities if your remains are accepted as a donation.

In Northern Ireland, that means offering your body to the Queen’s University Medical School in Belfast for anatomical examination by medical and dental students.

Perhaps it should be pointed out that while the process is referred to officially as a “donation” of remains, what it really amounts to is an extended loan of your body. This is because the school normally holds remains for a period of between 1 and 3 years, at which point a funeral can then take place.

When the donation period ends the Medical School will then cover the cost of what is referred to as a “simple” funeral — with burial or cremation at Roselawn. However, the University does make it clear that your Next of Kin or Executors will be expected to meet what it calls: “extra costs arising from any special funeral arrangements”.

Setting in place the arrangement for your body to be offered as a donation is reasonably straightforward. We have listed links and contact details below. It is important that anyone who decides to go down this route must make their decision known to relatives, their doctor and their executors.

Now, just because you may decide to have your body offered for use in medical education doesn’t automatically mean it will be accepted. Reasons for rejecting a donation have been listed in a booklet produced by Queen’s (see link, below). If a post-mortem had been carried out on the body would be one reason for rejection.

While Queen’s does not accept all offers of donations, the University has stressed how important it is for people to participate in the scheme, pointing out: “The study of anatomy is an essential foundation for the clinical practice of our doctors and dentists. Our young medical and dental students are privileged to be able to examine donated human material for the study of anatomy.”

All aspects of the scheme for donating a body for medical education are regulated by the Human Tissue Authority.

To obtain more information please contact the Anatomy Office at Queen’s University, telephone 028 9097 2131 or email Queen’s University.

You can also Download Queen’s Body Donation Bequest Booklet

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