Body Donation

Thank you for considering your generous donation to the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility. This ultimate gift will allow us to continue important scientific research that can assist professionals in the field in crime scene and criminal investigation. A donation could be the key that helps law enforcement officers solve a case or that teaches the next generation of professionals the most up-to-date information and practices in forensic science.

COST

There is no cost to you or your family for the donation of your body to the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility if you are in Texas and within a radius of 250 miles of Huntsville. However, if you are more than 250 miles from Huntsville or outside the state of Texas at the time of your death, your family will be responsible for arranging transportation of your body to the facility. Please contact a local funeral service to discuss the necessary arrangements.

THE LIVING DONOR BODY DONATION PROCESS

To donate your body to the STAFS facility complete the Living Donor Body Donation Packet and return to the STAFS facility at Sam Houston State University. Once the documents are received at STAFS a Donor Card will be sent to you for your records.

THE NEXT-OF-KIN BODY DONATION (ALREADY DECEASED)

To donate the body of a deceased family member complete the Next-of-Kin (Already Deceased) Body Donation Packet and return to the STAFS facility at Sam Houston State University. Once the documents are received, the body can be transported to STAFS. A medallion with the deceasedís name, date of birth and date of death will be sent to the next-of-kin as a medallion of remembrance. In addition, an annual memorial service is held for the families who have donated during that year.

DOCUMENTS

Before your donation can be considered, the appropriate Donation Packet needs to be completed, signed and returned. The original documents must be signed by the donor and include two witnesses' signatures. The documents do not need to be notarized. All information is considered confidential. A faxed or e-mailed copy is acceptable to obtain the body but the original documents must be recieved shortly thereafter. Please mail the original documents to:

Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility
College of Criminal Justice
Sam Houston State University
Box 2296
Huntsville, Texas 77341-2296

The Donation Packet includes:

SUGGESTIONS FOR LIVING DONORS

Give copies of the Body Donation Document to your next-of-kin, attorney, and physician. Consult a private attorney to assure that the document accomplishes your intent and is consistent with any existing testamentary documents. Keep the Donor Card in your records to assist in making your wishes known.

ORGAN DONATION

A donation to STAFS doesnít prohibit an individual from participating in organ donation. Prior to coming to STAFS, organs and tissue can be harvested.

REFUSAL OF DONATION

Most bodies are accepted for donation, however, The Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility reserves the right to decline donations of individuals who have some form of infectious disease such as HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis of any kind, or antibiotic resistant infections such as MRSA.

TREATMENT OF BODY

Bodies donated to STAFS are treated with the utmost respect and dignity. All information related to the donation is kept in strict confidence. Each donation is assigned a STAFS case number making the body unidentifiable to researchers. All research projects are supervised by the Principal Investigator and monitored by the STAFS director. All students fully appreciate that they are the beneficiaries of the generosity of the donors.

DISPOSITION OF BODY

Research is conducted on the human skeleton as well as other tissues of the body, and after that process is complete the skeleton is accessioned to the STAFS Donated Skeletal Collection. The skeleton is a very valuable resource in the scientific community because of evolving physical changes in the human race, many of which are visible on the human skeleton. This collection will be available to researches across the globe and continue to provide insight for decades and even centuries to come.

SECURITY

The facility is contained within the Center for Biological Studies, which is a restricted access facility. The outdoor research facility is secured and monitored 24/7 by University Police with still and motion-detecting cameras, which are also used to record all research and extraneous activities.

SAFETY

All precautionary measures of safety for faculty, staff, students, researchers and trainees are provided and enforced while at the facility. A Control Risk Management policy is in place.

THE DEATH CERTIFICATE PROCESS

STAFS does not issue the death certificate. Death Certificates are obtained through the County Clerkís office in the county of the deceasedís residence. STAFS is responsible for initiating the death certificate and verifying that all information entered is correct. To learn more about the death certificate process please review this brief step-by step process.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Hover over a question to view the answer.

What is the purpose of donating oneís body or a loved oneís body to this program?
The Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science (STAFS) Facility is a research facility with a predominant focus of study on the application of forensic sciences to the human body. Your body donation will benefit forensic anthropologists, entomologists, law enforcement agencies, medicolegal death investigators, geologists, and forensic science educators. Your donation will also benefit Taphonamy, human skeletal variation, and osteolgocial methods used by forensic anthropologists. Each body donated to STAFS is unique, and a very valuable component of our research. This program is seen by many to be the perfect alternative to traditional burial or cremation. The selfless act of giving oneís self or their loved one is a deed that will leave an impact on our society for generations.

Can I pre-register to donate my body?
Yes, becoming a living donor is strongly encouraged for those interested in donating their bodies to science. Download the living donor packet (link living donor packet)

What is the process of pre-registering my body for donation?
To pre-register download the living body donation packet (link living donor packet), discuss your wishes to be donated to STAFS with your family, complete the living donor packet (please contact us if you have questions), and return it by email to STAFS@shsu.edu or U.S. mail to:
Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility
College of Criminal Justice
Sam Houston State University
Box 2296
Huntsville, Texas 77341-2296

Can I change my mind after pre-registering?
Yes, notify STAFS if you wish to withdraw your consent to donate yourself. However, once a body has been donated and received by STAFS it will remain in the STAFS Skeletal Collection.

Can I donate body organs/tissue prior to my donation to STAFS?
Yes, we prefer full body donations, but we will accept most body donations.

What will happen at the time of my death?
STAFS must be notified upon death (936-294-2310). STAFS personal will guide the next of kin through the donation process including coordinating transportation and signing any necessary authorization forms, and verifying information.

Is there a cost to my family after my death?
We will arrange for transportation of the body within 250 miles of The Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Facility in Huntsville, TX. If the body is outside of 250 miles there will be a moderate fee to the family.

Who is the legal next of kin?
The closest relatives of a deceased individual, as defined by state law, are considered Next of Kin. Donít hesitate to call if you have any questions regarding your next of kin status. We highly encourage that if it is your wish to donate that you discuss this with your legal next of kin.

What if I am in another state at the time of my death?
STAFS will make every sensible effort to accept a donation from anywhere in the United States. It will be the responsibility of the family to arrange transportation of the body to Houston, TX

Please direct all questions and correspondence to the STAFS facility:

Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility
College of Criminal Justice
Sam Houston State University
Box 2296
Huntsville, Texas 77341-2296
E-mail: stafs@shsu.edu or Bytheway@shsu.edu
Phone: 936-294-2310
Fax: 936-294-2311