Conditions for Acceptance
The minimum age for body donation is 18; there is no upper age limit. Prospective donors should pre-register with the program. However, if someone dies without having pre-registered, it is possible for the next of kin to donate the body.
Whether or not you are pre-registered with our program, we cannot accept a body donation when, at the time of death, there is:
- Severe trauma (advanced decomposition, serious injury, septic shock).
- Presence of sepsis or an infectious disease such as hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or Clostridium difficile (C. diff).
- COVID-19 infection within the last 30 days.
- Presence of gangrene, colostomy, gastrostomy or jaundice.
- Overdose as cause of death or history of IV drug use.
- Extreme obesity (BMI above 35).
- Height above 6' 1".
Additional limitations exist, whether or not you are pre-registered with our program:
- The death must occur within the state of Ohio AND within 100 miles of Cleveland Clinic’s main campus (9500 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH 44195) for us to cover the transportation costs. If death occurs outside the 100-mile range, transportation arrangements and costs are the responsibility of the donor/donor family.
- Some limitations exist with regard to:
- Autopsy and organ donation
- Cause of death
- Time of death
- Please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions page for details about these limitations.
By pre-registering with the program, you are taking a practical approach to help ensure that your wishes will be met. You also simplify the process for your survivors.
If you pre-register for the program and later change your mind, or if you need to make a change to your current pre-registration, complete the Pre-registration Change Request form. We will update our records to reflect your change request and then send an email stating the same.
If an individual is not pre-registered with the program, we usually can accept the donation made by the next of kin at the time of death. Please contact us at that time to determine eligibility.
When Death Occurs
Call 216.444.2200 and tell the operator that you are calling to report a death for the Body Donation Program. The death needs to be reported to us two to three hours after death occurs.
- For additional information, please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions page.
Care of Remains
The program maintains a securely locked anatomy laboratory. Bodies are treated with the utmost care and are always handled in a respectful and dignified manner. Studies could take anywhere between several weeks and 18 months. Upon completion, the remains are individually cremated.
When the ashes are ready for final disposition, 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 the historic Lake View Cemetery, an option we are pleased to offer free of charge
Each choice for final disposition should be considered a permanent decision.