Department of Anatomy – Body Donation

The Faculty of Medicine obtains human cadavers for dissections and other research purposes through the body donation programme of the Department of Anatomy. We reproduce here the standard letter sent to all those who make inquiries about body donations. Further information could be obtained by contacting the department.

Donation of a body to the Medical Faculty for Medical Researches

Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding the above subject. We do appreciate your gesture. Though you have expressed a wish to donate your body after your death, we require the consent of the legal custodian(s) of your body to accept it. Therefore, it is necessary that them of your wish and also inform them of the following requirements for the handing over procedure.

  1. Your custodian(s) should contact the Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, Kynsey Road, Colombo 08, and arrange the date and time for handing over the body. The Department can be contacted on 2696243, 2688748, 2688749 or 2695300 (extension 119/120) from Monday to Friday, between 8:30 am and 2:00 pm. A body can only be accepted from Monday to Friday between 8:30 am and 2:00 pm (except on public holidays). Please note that bodies will not be accepted on Saturdays and Sundays.
  2. Before handing over the body, the custodian(s) should handover the following documents to the office. Please note that these documents will not be given back to the custodian(s) under any circumstances once the body has been taken over.
    1. The Medical Registrar’s Certificate of Death (The original) or Notice of Death (41(1) (a) clause).
      • It is compulsory that the intent to handover the body to the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo is clearly mentioned in the document.
      • Please note that under no circumstances will a body be accepted without the Medical Registrar’s Certificate of Death.
    2. An affidavit declaring that the person who is handing over the body is the legal custodian (Should be certified by a Justice of Peace).
    3. A copy of the National Identity Card of the person handing over the body (Should be certified by a Justice of Peace).
    4. Copies of the National Identity Card and a copy of the marital certificate of the parents should be provided if the body is that of a person aged less than 18 years (Should be certified by a Justice of Peace).
  3. Prior to handing over of the body to the Faculty of Medicine, the custodian(s) should come to the Department of Anatomy to confirm whether the above mentioned documents are in order.
  4. The body should be handed over to the Faculty within 48 hours of death. The undertaker should be informed that the body is to be donated to the Faculty of Medicine and that embalming should be done through the femoral artery in front of the upper part of the thigh. No other part of the body should be cut or damaged. However if the body is handed over within 8 hours of death embalming is not necessary.
  5. Please note that accepting the following types of bodies is subject to the approval of the Head of Department of Anatomy.
    1. Bodies that have undergone Post Mortem Examination.
    2. Bodies that had infectious diseases such as Hepatitis/HIV – AIDS.
    3. Bodies that have open wounds such as bed sores or open surgical scars due to recent operations.
    4. Bodies that have extensive joint deformities rendering the body incapable of being kept on a flat surface.
    5. Bodies that have had parts of the body donated (Eye donations made to the Eye Donation Society are acceptable).
    6. Bodies that have undergone extensive surgery.
    7. Bodies those are very obese or emaciated.
    8. Bodies that have certain types of cancers.
  6. Please note that the Faculty of Medicine retains the right to refuse accepting bodies at the time of handing over if they are not in a condition suitable for medical education and research purposes due to putrefaction. In such a situation your custodian(s) are responsible for removing the body from the Faculty premises immediately.
  7. Please note that the Faculty will not provide transportation services to transport the body.
  8. Please note that it is not possible for us to allow permission to pay respect to the body, undertake long- term preservation, or return any part or parts of the body to your custodian(s) once the body is handed over.
  9. Coffins must be taken away from the Faculty premises once the body has been handed over. We respectfully ask that you make arrangements with the undertakers or any other suitable organization, Elders Homes or Hospitals.
  10. In certain instances we preserve bodies and body parts and hand them over to schools and higher education institutions for health/medical education purposes. In such instances we take steps to recover the costs incurred by us for making the preparation from the recipients. We hope you have no objections to this.
  11. Your act will benefit society. You or your family members are not expected to make any payments to the Faculty of Medicine or any member of the staff of the Faculty of Medicine for this purpose.

Your cooperation in this issue is greatly appreciated.

Thank You,
Your Sincerely,
Professor Vajira H.W. Dissanayake
Head, Chair & Senior Professor of Anatomy,
Department of Anatomy,
Faculty of Medicine,
University of Colombo,
Kynsey Road,
Colombo 8.