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Donating your body to science

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Sometimes we receive inquiries from people interested in donating their body to the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine for use in education and research after they pass away. This is a wonderful sentiment and truly thoughtful.

We hope this page will provide you information about the options available to you. 

Virginia State Anatomical Program

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine can not directly receive body donations. In Virginia, donations of your whole body for medical research, education, and training of future and current physicians, health care providers, and researchers, is handled by the Virginia State Anatomical Program (VSAP) through the Department of Health. They manage donations and distribute to educational facilities around the commonwealth.

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine receives its cadavers from them for the use of students and faculty for educational and research purposes. According to the VSAP, a donor/donor’s family may request for their donation to go to a specific facility, so you can request Virginia Tech, and they will try to fulfill the request if possible. 

Organ Donations

If you are interested in donation of living organs (where your organs or tissue may be used for someone who needs a transplant), this can be accomplished through the Donate Life Virginia website.

Choosing a Donation Option

You can not donate living organs and then donate your body to VSAP. VSAP can only take whole bodies. It is a big decision, but either option is very valued for the education and research of current and future health care providers and the health of our communities.

Donor Memorial Ceremony

After our students use donated bodies for their education, they hold a Donor Memorial Ceremony at the close of the academic year to honor donors for their most generous gift – their bodies. Over the last three years the students from Radford University Carilion’s (RUC) Physician Assistant and Physical Therapy programs joined the students from VTCSOM in conducting this ceremony and reflecting on the shared experience. Students use the opportunity to express gratitude, recognize and honor the generosity of the gift, and uphold the humanity of the donor by reflecting and acknowledging their lived experience prior to the donation.

Student Reflections