How Donation Works

How Donation Works

  • Complete Registration Paperwork: Registration is not mandatory but is encouraged. Fill out all included forms found here or contact the Virginia State Anatomical Program (VSAP) office at (804) 786-2479 to request the forms. Make copies and leave them with a relative, friend, lawyer or the executor of your estate.  Send the original forms to VSAP at the address provided on the form.  Once VSAP receives the original forms, we will mail you a confirmation letter and wallet cards 

Registration does not guarantee acceptance at the time of death. You do not have to Register to be accepted.

  • At Time of Death: Donation to VSAP begins with notification of a potential donor’s death. Contact a local funeral home with refrigeration. Donor MUST be refrigerated within 4 hours of death. If the donor dies in a hospital, there is no need to contact a funeral home.  Notify VSAP within 24 hours of death by calling (804) 786-2479.  If death occurs after normal business hours, on a weekend or holiday, a message reporting the death of the potential donor should be left by selecting Option 1. Please include the potential donor’s name and caller’s contact information in the message. Messages left after 4:30 pm will be returned the next morning after 8:30 a.m. Messages left on a weekend or holiday between the hours of 8:15 am and 4:30 pm will be returned the same day. VSAP is operational 365 days a year, but not 24 hours a day.

Acceptance: After the report of death, a VSAP staff member will contact the healthcare provider or physician to review medical information and determine if the potential donor is 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 contact the next of kin/ responsible party to receive verbal authorization for the donation and to answer any questions.  After verbal authorization, two forms will be mailed/e-mailed directly to the next of kin or responsible party. These forms should be completed as soon as possible and returned to VSAP.

  1. Release of Deceased Human Body for Scientific Study:
    • This form provides written authorization of the donation.


  1. Final Disposition of Cremated Remains Form:
    • The next of kin/responsible party must submit this form in order to receive the cremated   remains of the donor following use by the program.

Transportation: If the potential donor is accepted, VSAP will make arrangements for transport of the donor from the funeral home or hospital. The donor must be in our care no later than 48 hours after death. If the donor is not accepted, it will be up to the next of kin/family to make alternate arrangements.

Study/Teaching: Once received at VSAP, the donor will be prepared and sent to a participating Virginia medical school. The anatomical study/teaching may take anywhere from several months up to 5 years. Although a majority of our schools are finished within 18 to 24 months, we cannot guarantee a timeframe. No reports on the pathology of the donors are generated by VSAP or by the programs at which the donor is placed.

Final Disposition: Once the medical school is completed, the donor will be cremated. VSAP will notify the next of kin/family and arrange for the return of the donor.