About the Program
How are bodies used?
Bodies are used for various medical education purposes, the advancement of medical science and research for the development of medical products and techniques. All bodies are used exclusively in Cleveland Clinic programs.
Will you make sure my organs go to someone in need?
No, we do not handle organ donation. To find out more about organ donation, contact your local organ procurement organization. LifeBanc serves Northeast Ohio and can be reached at 216.752.5433.
Can a body be donated for the study of a specific disease?
No, we do not conduct disease-specific studies nor can we accept a body that is designated for such studies.
Can the family receive a report specifying how the body was used?
No, we do not provide verbal or written reports following studies.
Conditions for Acceptance
Must I live in Ohio to pre-register with the program?
Anyone can pre-register with the program, but if the death occurs in another state, we cannot accept the body.
Are there any medical conditions that would prevent the acceptance of a body?
We cannot accept a body when there is severe trauma; the presence of an infectious disease such as sepsis, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or Clostridium difficile (C. diff); COVID-19 within the past 30 days; presence of gangrene, colostomy, gastrostomy or jaundice; overdose or history of IV drug use; when there is extreme obesity (BMI above 35); or height above 6'1". These conditions of acceptance apply whether or not you are pre-registered with our program.
What are some examples of severe trauma, as mentioned above?
Some examples include advanced decomposition, serious injury and septic shock.
Can you accept a body if death was caused by an accident, homicide or suicide?
These situations are determined on a case-by-case basis, whether or not you are pre-registered with our program.
If I have an autopsy, will you accept my body?
If an autopsy will be performed, no matter what the reason, we cannot accept the body, regardless of whether or not you are pre-registered with the program.
If I donate organs, will you accept my body?
If you are pre-registered with this program, the donation of most organs is allowable. The only exclusions are long bones and skin, which must be intact. If you have not pre-registered with this program, we cannot accept the body.
When Death Occurs
What should we do if death occurs at home?
If hospice is involved, contact them and follow the instructions they give you. They will come to the home to pronounce death and make the proper notifications, including the report to us. If hospice is not involved, call 911. We will need to speak to an officer or EMS representative to confirm that the coroner has released the body.
Who contacts the Body Donation Program to report the death?
Someone who is authorized to contact us, such as a nurse or first responder, should do so. We will obtain the required information and make sure the body is acceptable for donation (See Conditions for Acceptance). If the family contacts us, we will advise them how to proceed. The death needs to be reported to us within two to three hours after death occurs.
What is the telephone number to report a death?
The authorized representative (see above) should call 216.444.2200 and tell the operator that they’re calling to report a death for the Body Donation Program. The operator will connect them to the appropriate person. Someone from the program is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Must the program be notified immediately?
The death needs to be reported to us two to three hours after death occurs.
If a loved one passes away without having pre-registered with your program, can I donate their body?
It is possible for the next of kin to donate a body. At the time of death, contact us following the protocol noted above and we will determine if we can accept the body.
What are the options for final disposition of remains?
When the ashes are ready for final disposition, typically sometime between several weeks and 18 months, we notify the donor’s representative and ask them to contact us regarding their wishes. The cremated remains can either be:
- Given to the next of kin
- Interred in the program’s niche at Lake View Cemetery
Each choice for final disposition should be considered a permanent decision.
Given to the Next of Kin
How do I get the remains?
If you will be receiving your loved one’s remains, you have two options to choose from:
- Courier service. If the destination is within 50 miles of Cleveland Clinic's main campus, we can arrange a courier service to deliver them. Delivery is available Monday through Friday. A signature is required at the time of delivery.
- U.S. Postal Service. If the destination is more than 50 miles from Cleveland Clinic's main campus, you may choose to have the remains delivered via the U.S. Postal Service using Priority Mail Express. A signature is required at the time of delivery. This option should be considered a last resort because if the remains are somehow lost, they cannot be replaced.
In what type of container are the cremated remains placed?
A plastic cremation container that measures 8.5”L x 6”W x 4.5”D.
How do I get a cremation record?
The record is included in the container.
What if I choose to receive the remains and then later change my mind?
Each choice for final disposition should be considered a permanent decision. If you choose to receive the remains, you cannot later choose to have them interred at Lake View Cemetery for liability reasons.
Internment at Lakeview Cemetery
Is there a cost to inter the cremated remains at Lake View Cemetery?
No, we provide this option free of charge.
What if I choose to have the remains interred at Lake View Cemetery and then later change my mind?
Each choice for final disposition should be considered a permanent decision. To have remains removed from Lake View Cemetery requires both a court order and a significant cost to the family.
How do I move forward with the Lake View Cemetery option?
Simply let us know and we will make the arrangements. Within a few weeks the burial record is accessible on the cemetery’s website and includes an option for visitors to share additional information, memories and photos.
May I have a small portion of ashes before they are placed in the niche?
Yes. We can transfer a small amount into a keepsake urn (limit of two) before they are taken to the cemetery, but you must request it when you contact us regarding your wishes.
Where is the program’s niche located within the cemetery?
In the Community Mausoleum. A memorial stone at the mausoleum’s entrance collectively acknowledges our donors. Individual donor names are not inscribed on the memorial stone.
Is this a place where I can actually visit?
Yes. When we acquired the niche in 2006, our intention was to offer donors a distinguished final resting place, somewhere that family and friends could visit and pay tribute to them.
How do I find out more about Lake View Cemetery?
Please visit their website at lakeviewcemetery.com.
How will the body get to Cleveland Clinic?
If death occurs within 100 miles of Cleveland Clinic’s main campus (9500 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH 44195) we will make the transportation arrangements and cover the associated costs. The body will be transported as soon as possible, usually within a few hours. Contributing factors include the time of day, distance and weather conditions. If death occurs outside the 100-mile range, transportation arrangements and costs are the responsibility of the donor/donor family. You may wish to contact a local funeral home in advance to discuss transportation options.
Will there be any cost or financial obligation to the survivors with regard to body donation?
Cleveland Clinic assumes all costs except when death occurs outside the 100-mile range, as mentioned above. The family assumes the cost of the death certificate, generally about $25.
Do we need the services of a funeral director to handle any portion of the body donation?
Only if death occurs outside the 100-mile range, as mentioned above.
How will we know what to expect from the program following death?
An informational packet will be mailed to the donor family. They may also contact us with questions.
Can we have a funeral when the body is donated?
A traditional funeral is not possible but many families do have a memorial service, without the body present.
Can we view the body after it arrives at Cleveland Clinic?
No, family and friends must say their final farewells before the body is transported to Cleveland Clinic.
How do we get the death certificate?
We process the death certificate and then send it to the certifying physician or coroner. Upon completion, it is filed with and obtainable from the health department in the city (or county) where death occurred. The family assumes the cost of the death certificate, generally about $25.
How do we place an obituary with a newspaper?
To place an obituary, contact the newspaper directly. They will need to verify certain details before the ad is placed. They can contact us and we will confirm the information for them.
Can the obituary acknowledge that the body was donated to the program?
Yes. Some suggested language: NAME donated his/her body to the Cleveland Clinic Body Donation Program for the advancement of medical science.
Does the program accept monetary donations?
We appreciatively accept monetary donations in memory of our donors. The donations are deposited into an account that supports the annual memorial service. Please make checks payable to “Cleveland Clinic Education Institute” and include the donor’s name on the subject line. The mailing address is:
Body Donation Program
9500 Euclid Ave. / JJS20
Cleveland, OH 44195
Is there a way to share my loved one’s story with others?
Yes. We invite you to share their story on our website. The stories are a way of paying tribute, and they also help potential donors and families understand the motivation for these priceless gifts.
When is the program’s annual memorial service?
The service usually takes place in the spring, and invitations are mailed about a month in advance.