Body donation is the donation of the human body after death, for the purposes of research or education. Donations play an integral part in advancing medical science through the study of the human body. It is a meaningful alternative to a traditional funeral or cremation, which may cost upwards of several thousand dollars.
Once an individual has registered with our program, we will cover all expenses related to the donation process. This includes death certificate processing, cremation, and the return of partial cremated remains to the next of kin. We do not cover any expenses unrelated to the donation.
The anatomical gifts entrusted to us through your donation will be used wherever there is the greatest potential for discovery, and may be distributed to non-profit and for-profit institutions, in the United States and internationally.
In order to ensure the dignity and lasting impact of your gift, tissues and organs are only distributed to recognized and well-respected institutions that have undergone a strict verification and approval process with Aeternitas Life.
Prospective donors will complete an authorization for donation form with Aeternitas Life. Additional consent will be given to authorize the cremation of the body after donation. A copy of your driver license or other ID will be necessary to complete the authorization. Once the proper documentation has been received by us, we will contact you to confirm your acceptance.
Have a conversation with your family. It is important to inform everyone in your family of your commitment to donate with Aeternitas Life. It is your family who will be responsible for contacting us at the time of death so your donation can proceed in a timely manner. If your wishes are unknown, your pledge may go unfulfilled. Donations that are delayed will also negatively impact the efficacy and quantity of the gifts that can be used for research or education.
Aeternitas Life currently accepts registrations for body donation in major counties across Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Colorado. Individuals who register with Aeternitas Life but pass away outside of the states in the service area cannot be accepted. In order to protect the safety of medical personnel, individuals with HIV, hepatitis B or C, tuberculosis, prion disease, hepatic disease, or antibiotic-resistance viral or bacterial infection cannot be accepted.
Individuals with extensive surgeries or amputations may not be accepted. Furthermore, any individual who registers with Aeternitas Life but contracts an infectious, contagious, communicable or dangerous disease(s) before passing away cannot be accepted. In most cases, donations can be accepted up to a week after an individual has passed away.
Aeternitas Life guarantees acceptance for preregistered individuals that have a proportionate height-weight ratio (BMI) and meet the criteria listed in the Terms and Conditions for Anatomical Donation and Cremation. We cannot guarantee acceptance for individuals who have not preregistered with our program.
Yes, any tissues and organs that could not be used for donation will be cremated by an independent, licensed crematorium selected by Aeternitas Life. The next of kin may request the return of partial cremated remains, or choose to have 100% of the body contribute toward donation (no remains will be returned).
Partial cremated remains are typically returned to an authorized recipient within six to eight weeks, but may take as long as six to twelve months depending on the use of the donation. The cremated remains that are returned will not include the remains of the tissues or organs that were recovered for research or education during the donation.
Death certificates are issued by the vital records office in the county or state where the death occurred. This information can be found by searching the CDC Division of Vital Statistics. You can expect certified copies of the death certificate to arrive in approximately four to six weeks.
Yes, by registering with Aeternitas Life as a body donor, your tissues and organs will be used exclusively for research and education purposes. The designation on your driver license indicates that you have authorized the donation of your tissues and organs for transplantation. Unlike some body donation programs, we are able to accept tissue and organ donors on a case by case basis. Please contact us at the time of death so we may coordinate the donation with the appropriate organizations.
We cannot guarantee that your donation will benefit specific research or education. The anatomical gifts received from body donors are used wherever there is the greatest need. Please be assured that we work to ensure every donation contributes to discoveries that will advance medical science for the benefit of all human beings.
A traditional funeral or open casket viewing is typically not possible with donation. However, every donation is different and we are able to accept donation after a funeral ceremony if certain criteria are met. Commonly, donor families will arrange for a memorial or scattering service with partial cremated remains once the donation has been completed.
Aeternitas Life will arrange for transportation, cremation and death certificate processing through an independent, licensed first call provider based in the Portland Metropolitan Area. Per ORS 97.981(3), Aeternitas Life does not buy or sell anatomical gifts. Aeternitas Life is not licensed as a funeral service organization and does not directly provide any funeral services.
An institutional review board (IRB), is a type of independent ethics committee that reviews the methods and techniques proposed for human research to ensure that they are ethical. Aeternitas Life is the only whole body donation organization certified by an institutional review board.
DNA preservation (also known as DNA banking) is the secure preservation and long-term storage of an individual’s unique genetic material.
DNA contains valuable information about each individual, from the color of their hair, eyes and other physical traits, to their inherited health risks, medical conditions and ancestral roots. Preserving DNA allows you to capture a physical record of all of this information forever. Whether you choose to preserve DNA as a meaningful way to cherish your loved one, or for tracing hereditary health conditions in your family, DNA banking creates opportunities that would otherwise be lost forever.
Aeternitas Life will arrange for DNA preservation through an independent, licensed laboratory. Our testing laboratory meets and exceeds industry standards, with accreditations and certifications by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), and the College of American Pathologists (CAP).
You have complete control over your banked DNA. Your privacy is very important to us – we do not keep any of your DNA on site nor do we share your private information with any third parties.
Brain banking is the preservation of the human brain after death, for the purposes of advancing brain research and education. Better brain banking technology like that used by Aeternitas Life will allow scientists to make progress against degenerative brain diseases.
Aldehyde-stabilized cryopreservation (ASC), is a brain banking technique for preserving the brain’s micro-structure over indefinite time scales. The approach uses glutaraldehyde to rapidly stabilize the brain’s synaptic structure. The necessary cryoprotectants are delivered via perfusion, enabling preservation of brains of any size.
The Aqua cremation process is an environmentally friendly alternative to a traditional flame cremation. It uses water instead of fire to perform the cremation process. The scientific name for this water-based process is alkaline hydrolysis. It is the same process that occurs as part of nature’s course when a body is laid to rest in the soil. We use a combination of water flow, temperature, and alkalinity to accelerate nature’s process.
With alkaline hydrolysis, an individual body is gently placed in a container that is then placed in a clean, stainless steel vessel. A combination of water flow, temperature and alkalinity are used to accelerate the natural process of tissue hydrolysis. The water-based process is 95% water and 5% alkali.
At the end of the process, the body has been returned to its natural form, dissolved in the water (our bodies are approximately 65% water to begin with). The only solid remains are the mineral bone remains. The remains are 100% safe to handle, pathogen and disease free.
No, alkaline hydrolysis uses a catalyst called alkali, which is the chemical opposite of an acid. A combination of alkalis (sodium and potassium hydroxide) are used in the process to dissolve the body.
The alkalis used in this process are the same alkalis used in common cosmetic products, body washes, shaving creams, and even in food preparation. At the end of the process, the chemical has been completely used and no longer remains in the water solution.
There are no direct emissions of harmful greenhouse gasses or mercury to the atmosphere. It is very energy efficient – greater than 90% energy savings compared to flame cremation, with 1/10th of the carbon footprint. Additionally, the Aqua Cremation process uses less water than a single household uses in one day.
This includes all of the water used for the process, along with the clean water rinses of the final remains and vessel. No water is wasted, it is returned to the ecosystem via the normal wastewater treatment facility process.
Yes, donors who change their mind may rescind their consent for donation by completing a revocation of anatomical gift form. Per ORS 97.967(3), a revocation is effective only if it is made before the tissue and organ recovery is started. Aeternitas Life is not liable for any loss or damage resulting from a revocation made after tissue and organ recovery or from a donation made without proper legal authority on behalf of a decedent.
Inform the appropriate legal and medical parties that a natural death has occurred. This may include emergency response, hospice provider, next of kin, and the person’s doctor. Contact us at 844-330-7040. We will make all arrangements for transportation from the place of death to our facility in the Portland Metropolitan Area.
For your convenience, dedicated representatives are available to respond to any questions you may have regarding the donation process. Please call 844-330-7040, we’re here to help 24 hours a day. A representative will respond to electronic inquiries within twenty-four hours.