Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology


The Health Department of Western Australia has licensed the School of Human Sciences to accept whole body donations from members of the Western Australian community.

The University is extremely grateful for generous bequests made by our donors.

Bodies are used for anatomical teaching, medical and scientific research and specialist training at many teaching and research institutions.


Who to notify of your bequest

It is recommended the donor notify:

  • next of kin/executor of their estate
  • their doctor
  • staff (if the donor resides in a nursing home)
  • hospital staff (on admittance to hospital).

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University acceptance of body bequests

A decision is unable to be made until a donor has passed away. The cause of death helps to ascertain whether a donor is suitable for the program. A medical history of the donor is also obtained from the doctor involved at the time of death or the donor’s local doctor.

Bodies that are unacceptable for the program include those that have:

  • had a post-mortem examination
  • had recent surgery
  • had organs removed for donation (with the exception of corneal donation)
  • a possible contagious disease
  • been significantly altered by certain medical conditions or procedures
  • some other medical conditions (for example, severe vascular disease)
  • been assessed as obese or emaciated
  • been deceased for more than five days
  • been assessed to be unsuitable for embalming.

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Contacting the University when a donor dies

The next of kin usually notifies the Donation Program Co-ordinator, but contact can also be made by medical staff and funeral directors.

The Donation Program Co-ordinator then contacts the doctor certifying the death to ascertain suitability of the donor for the bequest program.

If the University accepts a donor, we take care of the transfer of the donor to the School and notify and register the death with the relevant government authorities.

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Procedure for donor death outside normal business hours

This procedure depends on where a donor passes away.

If there is no facility, like a mortuary, to accommodate the donor (hospitals have this facility), then the next of kin is required to ring the funeral director of their choice. The funeral directors will collect the body and transfer it to their own facilities. As soon as the University re-opens, the funeral directors will call and advise the University of the death.

If there is a mortuary facility, the University needs to be notified as soon as the University office is open.

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Within the metropolitan area, when an offer of donation is accepted, the University pays the full cost of transfer and a simple cremation.

Outside the metropolitan area, the estate, next of kin or benefactor will need to agree to pay half the transfer cost before the offer of donation can be considered for acceptance.

The cost of the transfer is determined by transport distance and funeral director fees.

The donor's next of kin will need to contact their preferred funeral director for exact costs. As a rough guide, previous transfer costs have ranged from $250 to $1500.

Please Note
The University does not cover the cost of funeral or memorial services, copies of death certificates or the collection of ashes from the cemetery.

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Family service

This is a personal issue for many families. Some want to have a service before the donor is transferred to the University, a number hold a memorial service without the body, and others prefer a service at the time of cremation.

If the next of kin wishes to have a service before transfer, it has to be held almost immediately as the University must receive the body as soon as possible after death.

If the next of kin wishes to have a service at the time of cremation, they can make arrangements with the funeral director for this. Please note that all funerals/services at this time are deemed to be not suitable for viewing.

The University holds a Memorial Service every three years for donors cremated in that period.

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Length of time the University retains a donor

If accepted, the University may retain the body for a period ranging from two (2) weeks up to five (5) years.

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Remains of the donor

If the next of kin requests the ashes of a donor, they will be notified by the funeral directors at the time of cremation. If the ashes are not required to be returned to the next of kin they will be interred in the University’s Memorial Garden at Karrakatta Cemetery.

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Changing your mind

A donor may revoke a bequest in writing at any time.

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Can my family donate my body on my behalf?

In the absence of a duly signed and witnessed consent form, the University cannot accept a body bequest. However, the next of kin can donate the body of a deceased relative, provided they sign a consent form stating that the wish was expressed by the deceased in the presence of at least two or more witnesses.

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