How Donation Works

Pre-registratrion is not mandatory but is encouraged. To become pre-registered, either locate the forms here or contact the Virginia State Anatomical Program’s office to request the forms.

Pre-registration does not guarantee acceptance at the time of death and you do not have to pre-register to be accepted.

Donation to VSAP begins with notification of a potential donor’s death. At the time of death of the potential donor, VSAP needs to be contacted immediately.

A healthcare representative from the hospital, medical facility or hospice organization where the death occurred or a family member should contact VSAP at (804) 786-2479 to report the death. The report is required to be within 24 hours of death.

If death occurs during normal business hours of 8:15am – 4:30pm Monday – Friday, VSAP personnel are available to provide instructions over the phone.

If death occurs at a nursing home or a residence, the nursing home and/or relative should contact the  funeral home of their choice. The funeral home must have refrigeration. The potential donor needs to go into refrigeration no longer than 4 hours after death in order to be considered for donation. If the donor is accepted and pre-registered, VSAP will pay a designated amount for transportation costs from the facility or residence to the funeral home.  The family will be responsible for any additional charges from the funeral home.

If death occurs at a hospital, the hospital should hold the remains in its facility and contact the VSAP. The family may call to guarantee that VSAP has been contacted. The voicemail provides explanation as to what information is needed in the message.

If death occurs after normal business hours, on weekends and holidays, the death should be reported by calling VSAP at (804) 786-2479. A message reporting the death of the potential donor should be left by selecting Option 1. The message should include the potential donor’s name and caller’s contact information. Messages left reporting deaths after 4:30pm will be returned the next day after 8:30am.  Messages left reporting deaths between the hours of 8:30am to 4:30pm on weekends and holidays will be returned that same day.

After the report of death, a VSAP staff member will need to contact the healthcare provider or physician to review medical information to determine if the potential donor would be eligible for acceptance. Refer here to learn more about the criteria for donor acceptance.

If the potential donor meets the acceptance criteria, a staff member will then contact the next of kin or responsible party to receive verbal authorization for the donation and to answer any questions.

After verbal authorization, two forms will be mailed or emailed directly to the next of kin or responsible party. These forms should be completed as soon as possible and returned to VSAP.

  • “Release of Deceased Human Body for Scientific Study” Form: provides written authorization of the donation.
  • “Request Form for Return of Cremated Remains” Form: the next of kin or responsible party must submit this form in order to receive the cremated remains of the donor following use by the program.

Arrangements for transportation to VSAP facilities will be made by VSAP staff.