The human body: a valuable, irreplaceable gift in the training of physicians.

The donation of one’s own body or the body of a loved one in order to advance the knowledge and skills of physicians is a selfless, generous act that has great significance for A.T. Still University’s Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (ATSU-KCOM), its faculty, and its students.

The study of the human body is an important component in the education of physicians and other healthcare professionals. The rate at which medical science is advancing makes it increasingly necessary to conduct special anatomical studies and research, and real-life experience is the most valuable form of training. The University accords the highest respect to anatomical bequests made to educational programs as these gifts contribute greatly to new understandings.

Gift of body and the law

The gift of one’s body after death is governed by the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act of the State of Missouri, which became law in 1969. ATSU-KCOM is a member of the Missouri State Anatomical Board and may legally receive unclaimed bodies from Missouri county coroners or others who have legal authority to dispose of a body.

Becoming a donor

As individuals put their affairs in order, they may decide to donate their bodies to medical science upon their death. This generous bequest is made to ATSU-KCOM in writing using a signed donation form (pdf). The donor should inform the next-of-kin/estate executor of his/her desire to donate. A local funeral director should also be informed so that, at the time of death, arrangements can be made to expeditiously embalm and transfer the body to ATSU.

Immediate next-of-kin may also donate the body of a relative. This gift is also made using a signed next of kin donation form (pdf).

Procedures at the time of death

At the time of death, contact the Anatomy Department to verify the donation. Then contact a licensed funeral director and provide him/her with a copy of the donation form. The funeral director prepares the body, accompanies it to ATSU, and completes the necessary paperwork for the death certificate.

Bequests received in the Gift of Body Program typically remain in the Anatomy Department at ATSU’s Kirksville, Mo., campus for a period of two years. Donated bodies are used only by ATSU-KCOM on the premises of the University unless otherwise permitted by law and the donor (see gift form).

Remembering the lives of donors

Every fall, a memorial service for donors is held at Forest-Llewellyn Cemetery in Kirksville. Our medical students coordinate and execute the event in a manner that honors the lives of donors. Family and friends of donors are welcome to attend the memorial service. For more details, contact the Anatomy Department.

The donor’s family may also choose to hold their own memorial service. As prompt delivery is essential, memorial services are best conducted without the body. However, ATSU-KCOM will defer to the wishes of the donor or the donor’s family.


Forms may also be requested from the Anatomy Department by calling 660.626.2468.

Forms must be completed, signed, and witnessed. Online forms should be printed and returned to:

A.T. Still University
Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine
Anatomy Department
800 W. Jefferson St.
Kirksville, MO 63501

Additional information

Are all bodies accepted by the Gift of Body Program?
ATSU-KCOM reserves the right to refuse gift bodies, which can be due to (but not limited):

  1. autopsy,
  3. donation of major organs (except eyes),
  5. gross obesity,
  7. destructive trauma or extensive surgery,
  9. communicable disease or other threats to faculty, staff or students

The brief medical history form (pdf) should be completed by the donor or in the case of a next-of-kin donation, at the time of death. The form could be completed by the immediate next-of-kin or attending physician. To expedite the filing of the death certificate, Information for Missouri Certificate of Death (pdf) is also required.

All gift body donors must be at least 18 years old.

What are the costs involved?

ATSU-KCOM requests that the estate or next-of-kin of the deceased pay for embalming and transportation of the body to the ATSU-KCOM campus, located in Kirksville, Mo. However, ATSU-KCOM will pay reasonable embalming and transportation costs if such costs would be a financial burden to the family or estate. This must be arranged prior to the gift of the body by contacting the Anatomy Department.

What happens to the body after use?

Gift bodies are cremated and returned to the family of the deceased, if so desired. Such requests must be made on the donation form at the time of donation, or made in writing to the Anatomy Department when the body is delivered. Cremains not returned to the family or designated individual are buried in Forest-Llewellyn Cemetery in Kirksville during a memorial service.

What if I change my mind?

The intent to be a gift body donor may be revoked at any time. Contact the Anatomy Department if your intent changes.


A.T. Still University
Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine
Anatomy Department
800 W. Jefferson St.
Kirksville, MO 63501