For the last 40 years the Montana Body Donation Program at Montana State University has been providing the WWAMI Medical Education Program and institutions of higher learning with cadaver donations. This endeavor is an important component of training new physicians and health professionals for the future of health care.

The MBDP depends on the assistance of funeral homes to maintain our program. Funeral home directors are our liaisons with the families of donors and are essential in providing initial embalming and transportation. Without the expertise and support of the funeral homes the MBDP could not exist.

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1. “First call” – Pick up remains from site of death and transport to funeral home.
• Obtain cause of death & information from hospital, doctor or next of kin. This information is necessary for the MBDP to be able to make a decision for accepting/declining a donation.
• Some of the reasons for declining a donation:
- death occurred out of state and would require excessive time and expense to return body to MSU
- next of kin do not agree with donation of body
- open or unhealed wounds at time of death
- massive systemic infections (e.g., MRSA)
- diseases such HIV, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- death due to trauma (e.g., car accident or homicide)
- an autopsy has been performed
- exceptionally emaciated or obese
- too much time has elapsed between death and initial embalming by local funeral home director
- space available at MSU
2. Contact MBDP –  (406) 599-0572
3. Perform arterial embalming via femoral artery to remove blood and to ensure adequate preservation until the body arrives at MSU. Whenever possible, we need a femoral artery injection so that we can achieve a complete preservation. Injections into the carotid artery make it more difficult to accomplish a thorough infusion, and they destroy delicate structures in the neck that our students must dissect and study.
• Primary embalming must be completed within 6-12 hours after death
• 2 gallons of low index formaldehyde embalming solution is preferred.
• Please place arms & hands at side of donation.
• Please tie off vessels when finished with primary embalming.
• Use cheesecloth or cotton at the embalming site to absorb fluid. Please do not use absorbent powder.
• Please use caps under eyelids and tie mouth shut.
4. Funeral Home please provide:
• Burial-transit permit with proper signatures.
• Declaration of Consent Form or Next of Kin Declaration of Consent Form in case MBDP does not have form on file.
• The preference of the next of kin for final disposition of the body.
• Name and address of next of kin so that we can correspond with them.
5. Transportation arrangements with MBDP:
• Body transported to MSU by MBDP employee.
• MBDP travels up to 250 miles from Bozeman to accept donation.
• Beyond 250 miles from Bozeman, a donation can be accepted if the next of kin or estate pays additional costs for the funeral home to transport remains to another funeral home within the 250 mile radius of MSU. The MDBP will then be responsible for bringing the donation to Bozeman.
• Occasionally, the funeral home may agree to transport the donated body to MSU, if a mutually satisfactory arrangement can be made to cover costs.

Sunset Hills Cemetery Mountain View

Cadavers can be used for 1 to 5 years depending on the program they are used in. After studies are finished, the Montana Body Donation Program will arrange for final disposition of the body, either by cremation or by burial, according to the wishes outlined     by the donor and the family at the time the Declaration of Consent was signed. The MBDP will, in every case, confirm the final disposition wishes with the next of kin before final disposition.

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

  1. Remains will be cremated and then returned to the family, at no expense to the donor's estate or next of kin.
  2. The remains will be cremated and then 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.
  3. The 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. 

MBDP Gravestone     If cremation is chosen by the donor the MBDP will arrange for the cremation at the time   of final disposition. The remains may be sent to a designated family member or buried in   Sunset Hills Cemetery. This is at no expense to the donor's estate or next of kin.  

 Sunset Hills Cemetery


If standard burial is chosen by the donor then the burial is performed in Sunset Hills Cemetery in Bozeman. This is a common plot without names on the gravestone to protect privacy of donors. A gravestone with the phrase "Dedicated to the Advancement of Medical Education" is placed on the gravesite. This is paid for by the MBDP.




We deeply appreciate your assistance throughout the past 40 years!

For your convenience, a staff member will be available by cell phone at all times, ensuring that you will always be able to connect with us regarding a donation regardless of the time of day.

Please call the MBDP coordinator at (406) 599-0572