Willed Body Program

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The Willed Body Program is now accepting new donor applications.

Your donation to the TTUHSC El Paso Paul L. Foster School of Medicine Willed Body Program will help us provide high-level anatomical instruction to future physicians. We are deeply grateful to those whose interest in furthering medical education leads them to make this donation. If you are interested in becoming a registered donor, or if you would like more information, please contact us using the information provided below.

Donor Forms

To enroll, Please complete and return the Donation Form and Personal Data Sheet.

KCOS-13 Willed Body Program Broadcast

Frequently Asked Questions

Donors must be at least 18 years of age and competent to make the decision to donate. There is no maximum age limit. Registration as a donor in our Willed Body Program does not mean that the body donation is always accepted, as that decision is made at the time of death at the discretion of the Program. It is wise to have an alternative plan, as there are restrictions on the condition of bodies that we are able to accept.

Yes, the Willed Body Program may decline any donor body that may not be suitable for educational purposes. There are a number of conditions that preclude us from accepting the donation, such as:

  • History of contagious disease (hepatitis, AIDS, tuberculosis, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease,MRSA, VRE, sepsis, virulent herpes, etc.)
  • COVID-19 infection (positive test or lack of a negative test with the presence of symptoms or suspicion of infection) at or near the time of death
  • Organs (other than eyes) have been removed at or near the time of death, such as for organ donation and/or autopsy
  • Overly large body stature (severe obesity or height above 78 inches), jaundice, or body contractures
  • Advanced decomposition of body
  • Trauma, such as that suffered during an automobile accident, drowning, homicide, etc.

In the event that the Willed Body Program determines that the donor body is unusable, the next of kin will need to make alternative arrangements for the final disposition. The Willed Body Program cannot be responsible for any costs associated with alternative arrangements.

If you are interested in donating your body to help educate our future medical professionals, you will first need to contact our program via email, mail, or phone and ask for the willed body program donation forms. You can also download and print the forms from our website. We will provide a pack of four forms (two are for information only), two of which will need to be completed and mailed back to us. The Donation Form will need to be completed and signed by you and two witnesses of legal age. The Personal Data Form will also need to be completed and returned.
The forms do not need to be notarized.

The Willed Body Program may also accept donation of deceased persons who did not register with our program prior to passing away. The next of kin may contact the Willed Body Program to initiate the donation process and they will be asked to fill out a Next of Kin Donation Form.  Acceptance at time of death is not guaranteed and depends upon program needs and space.

When we receive your completed and signed Donation Form as well as your completed Personal Data Form we will send you a letter of acknowledgement and a donor wallet card. Please sign your card and carry it with you at all times, as it includes a statement of your intent to donate to our Willed Body Program.

Generally, there is no cost to your family as long as you are located within El Paso County.  If you pass away outside of El Paso County, your estate would need to pay for transportation to the medical school.

Our program utilizes a mortuary service to pick up donor bodies on our behalf. Arrangements will be made with our designated mortuary service and we will coordinate payment for pickup, embalming, cremation, etc. If a funeral home or alternate mortuary company is contacted for any services (including pickup and transportation) by anyone not associated with our Willed Body Program, these initial charges will be borne by the estate or next of kin.

The embalming procedure takes place at the medical school once the donor body is received. This is done at no cost to your family. The family or estate will be financially responsible for any funeral services or other arrangements they make with a funeral home or alternate mortuary provider.

It is important that we receive the body as soon as possible after death, so most families choose to have a memorial service without the body present. Additionally, the family may request to have their loved one’s ashes returned upon completion of the anatomical studies course and they may prefer to hold a service at that time. Clergy or funeral directors can easily arrange services of this type. If the family feels strongly about holding a funeral prior to the donation the funeral director would need to contact our department first for specific embalming instructions.

While it is not a requirement that you inform your family of your decision to donate, it is encouraged. Family members may need some time to understand this unique and generous decision so it is best to begin discussing your wishes with your family once you initially make the decision to donate. Ideally, you should inform your next of kin or the executor of your estate and provide copies of your donation paperwork. We also advise that you notify your physician, clergy and attorney of the arrangements.

We are required by law to cremate all donors.

The cremated remains may be returned to the next of kin if the request is made in advance. The ashes will be mailed by certified mail so it is imperative that we have a current address and phone number for you and your next of kin. In the event that the next of kin prefers not to receive the ashes or does not request the return of the ashes, the cremated remains will be irretrievably co-mingled and buried with the cremated remains of other individuals in a shared plot. The burial location will be disclosed to the next of kin upon request.

In the event that the next of kin requests the return of the donor’s cremated remains in advance, the normal time from death to return of cremated remains is around two years. This depends on when the donor passed away and the needs of the Program. It is our goal to keep the time it takes for the next of kin to receive cremated remains as short as possible to help the family get closure. It should be understood, however, that the process of donation and allowing the donor to appropriately educate our students does take time. If the family is not comfortable with this timeframe then the decision whether or not to donate should be thoughtfully considered.

Yes, at any time by writing the TTUHSC-EP Paul L. Foster School of Medicine Willed Body Program and destroying your donation forms.

At time of death, contact should be made to the mortuary service that will be responsible for removal. The contact number is: 915-838-1200. It should be explained that the deceased is a registered donor with our program or that the nearest surviving relative wishes to make a donation to our Medical School. The mortuary service will verify enrollment in our donor program, or provide a Next of Kin donation form if the deceased did not pre-enroll.

Your family may choose to have your body transported (through a mortuary service) to our Medical School at the expense of your estate within 12 hours. Alternatively, your family may choose to donate your body to a medical school located in the state in which your death occurred.

If you carry the donor card that we provide to you in your purse or wallet, it will be understood that you are a donor in our program. If not, your family members will need to know of your request ahead of time so they can contact our Willed Body Program.

No, we primarily use donors for medical education to ensure that our future physicians are properly trained. We cannot accept bodies to ascertain the cause of death or for specific disease research. Similarly, we do not provide a report of findings or conditions.

Contact Willed Body Program

Paul L. Foster School of Medicine
Department of Medical Education
5001 El Paso Drive - El Paso, TX 79905

Heather A. Balsiger, MS, Faculty Associate, Anatomy
Willed Body Program & Anatomy Lab Director
Tel: 915-215-4793 Email: WilledBodyPLFSOM@ttuhsc.edu

If you did not qualify for the TTUHSC - Medical Education Willed Body Program, please see the Anatomical Donation Programs site to get additional information on other locations to donate.