What is the maximum amount of time that can elapse between death and initial embalming for the donation to still be accepted?

The best long-term preservation is obtained if initial embalming is done within 4-6 hours after death. We can accept a donation if initial embalming is done within 10-12 hours after death. Unfortunately, if initial embalming is not done within a 12 hour period after death, we must decline the donation.

What are some conditions that would cause a donation to be declined?

  • Next of kin do not agree with the donation of the body
  • Open or unhealed wounds at time of death
  • Massive systemic infections (e.g., MRSA)
  • Diseases such as HIV, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrigs’ s Disease)
  • Death due to trauma (e.g., car accident, homicide or suicide)
  • If an autopsy has to be, or was performed
  • If the donor is exceptionally obese or emaciated at the time of death
  • If the initial embalming is not completed within 6-12 hours after death

Can a person donate his/her remains to the MBDP if they are also an organ donor?

The MBDP can accept a donation if only the corneas have been harvested for organ donation.

If any internal organs have been harvested for organ donation the MBDP must decline the donation because we must have a complete donor for educational purposes. Also if organs have been harvested we cannot complete our long-term secondary preservation.

What is the ideal weight of a donation for the MBDP?

Ideal weight is based upon the height of the individual. While we can accept an individual who is underweight or overweight, we cannot accept an individual who is extremely obese or extremely emaciated. Ideal bodies for anatomical studies are within the normal weight range.

Ideal weight chart for men:     Ideal Weight Chart for Men

Ideal weight chart for women: Ideal Weight Chart for Women

What degree of initial embalming is required?

Having the body well cleared of blood is a necessity for us. After clearing the body you can use a low index embalming solution to ensure adequate preservation until the body arrives at Montana State University. We perform the long-term tissue preservation at our facilities.

Why does the MBDP prefer the femoral artery for initial embalming?

The femoral artery is the best port for us to use for our secondary preservation. Initial embalming via the carotid artery destroys delicate structures in the neck that the WWAMI medical students must dissect and study.

By using the femoral artery we can get the best overall long-term preservation. The femoral artery's connection to the aorta and the branches off the aorta allow for the preservation of the pelvis, abdomen, thorax, neck, head, and upper limbs. The lower limbs are well preserved due to the vascular anastomoses at the hip.

Does the MBDP have a preference between formaldehyde and gluteraldehyde based products?

The use of formaldehyde based initial embalming solutions provides for a complete preservation. When gluteraldehyde based products are used we have a difficult time getting the secondary preservation fluids into the body. We have noticed that the gluteraldehyde based solutions clots the blood in the vessels. As a result, we cannot get a uniform preservation to all parts of the body.

What is the current rate of imbursement to funeral homes?

Currently we are paying $600.00 to funeral homes. Up to $450 is paid for initial embalming and up to $150 is paid for initial transportation of the deceased to the funeral home.

When should a Next of Kin form be used?

The Next of Kin form should be used if the family wishes to donate the remains of the deceased or if the deceased had expressed a clear desire to donate his or her body to science but never actually filled out the paperwork. In addition the NOK form can be used if the donor is no longer able to sign the forms.

What choices do the family have in regard to final disposition of the donor after the anatomical study is complete:

Donors and families have 3 choices for final disposition of the donor after the anatomical studies are complete:        

  1. Remains will be buried in a shared plot and coffin, without a named stone, in the Bozeman City Cemetery, at no expense to the donor's estate or next of kin. Names are not included on the gravestone to protect the privacy of the individual donors. The simple gravestone acknowledges the donors' gifts to medical education.
  2. The donor or next of kin can make arrangements with a funeral home of their choice to have the remains cremated and returned to the family. Such arrangements are at the expense of the donor's estate or next of kin.
  3. The donor or next of kin can make arrangements with a hometown funeral home or a Bozeman area funeral home to have the remains returned for local burial, recognizing that such arrangements are at the expense of the donor's estate or next of kin.

The original consent forms on file with the MBDP state the wishes of the donor or next of kin for final disposition of the remains. The MBDP will, in every case, confirm the final disposition wishes with the next of kin when the anatomical study is complete.