Anatomy@Edinburgh

What happens when you die?

Notification procedures at time of death.

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At the time of a potential donor’s death the next-of-kin or executor should telephone the department as soon as possible after death occurs. 

The person phoning will be required to give us the donor’s details, confirm that a bequest has been signed and asked a few questions including the cause of death. We appreciate that this will be a very difficult time for the next of kin but we need to be able to assess whether we will be able to accept the bequest or not.

The Anatomy department is closed on Saturdays and Sundays, however, there is a voicemail service covering these times and relatives or doctors should leave their name and telephone number so that we can deal with it promptly on our return. Unfortunately we are unable to accepts bequests during the major public holidays at Christmas and New Year, as the university closes down over this period. During these times next-of-kin are advised to make their own funeral arrangements.

A death certificate will be issued by the doctor (either in the hospital or the GP). We cannot accept a body until this has been signed. Sometimes it will be necessary for us to contact this doctor before we can make a final decision so it would be helpful if the next-of-kin could provide us with these details.

If the death occurs in a hospital the body is usually held in the hospital mortuary until a decision is made. If, however, the death occurs at home or in a nursing home, it would be advisable to turn off all heating where the body lies and open a window if possible. Sometimes it may be necessary to have the body uplifted by a funeral director and kept in their mortuary until we can take receipt of the body. (The cost of this transportation would be borne by the University).

When the offer of your body has been accepted, the University will make the necessary arrangements to remove and transport your body to the University.