Body Donation

Thank you for considering your generous donation to the Applied Anatomical Research Center This ultimate gift will allow us to continue important medical and scientific research that can assist professionals in their respective fields. A donation could be the key that helps medical or forensic professionals develop a new technique, discover something new, or solve a case.


There is no cost to you or your family for the donation of your body or your loved one’s body to the Applied Anatomical Research Center if you are in Texas and within a radius of 250 miles of Huntsville. However, if you or your loved one is more than 250 miles from Huntsville, Texas or outside the state of Texas at the time of death, the next of kin will be responsible for arranging transportation of your body to the center. Please contact a local funeral service to discuss the necessary arrangements.

The Living Donor Body Donation Process

To donate your body to the AARC, you will need to complete the Living Donor Body Donation Packet and return it to the AARC at Sam Houston State University. Once AARC personnel receive the documents, a Donor Card will be sent to you for your records. If you are interested in becoming a living donor, please contact our facility for the required paperwork. Thank you for your willingness to donate.

Contact AARC at 936-294-2310 or for details on receiving a donor packet.

The Next-of-Kin Body Donation (Already Deceased)

To donate the body of a deceased family member, you will need to complete the Next-of-Kin (already deceased) Body Donation Packet and return it to the AARC at Sam Houston State University. Once AARC personnel receives and reviews the documents, the body can be transported to AARC. A medallion with the deceased’s name, date of birth and date of death will be sent to the Next-of-Kin as a token of remembrance. In addition, an annual memorial service is held for the families who have donated during that year. If you are interested in receiving a Next-of-Kin donation packet, please call us so we may better assist you.

Contact AARC at 936-294-2310 or for details on receiving a donor packet.


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 received shortly thereafter for the paperwork to be complete. Please mail the original documents to:

Applied Anatomical Research Center
Sam Houston Research Centers
Sam Houston State University
Box 2506
Huntsville, Texas 77341-2506

The Donation Packet includes:

  • The Donation Program Policy (please read)
  • Willed Body Donation Program Donor Form
  • Body Release Form(s)
  • The Biological Questionnaire, which is helpful in documenting medical conditions throughout one’s life.
  • If you are a Living Donor, please send a frontal view photograph of yourself with the Donation Packet.

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

All donations to AARC are accepted on a case-by-case basis, dependent upon active research at that time. A donation to AARC does not necessarily prohibit an individual from participating in organ donation. Prior to coming to AARC, organs and tissue can be harvested, however, this may potentially affect acceptance of the donation, depending on research at that time.

Refusal of Donation

Most bodies are accepted for donation, however, The Applied Anatomical Research Center reserves the right to decline donations. AARC is unable to accept individuals that have ever had tuberculosis, or individuals who have recently had antibiotic resistant infections such as MRSA.

Treatment of Body

Bodies donated to AARC are treated with the utmost respect and dignity. All information related to the donation is kept in strict confidence. Each donation is assigned an AARC case number making the body unidentifiable to researchers. All research projects are supervised by the Principal Investigator and monitored by the AARC 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 AARC 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 continues to provide insight for decades and even centuries to come.


The Center 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.


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

The Death Certificate Process

AARC does not issue the death certificate. Death Certificates are obtained through the County Clerk's office in the county of the deceased’s residence. AARC 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

  • What is the purpose of donating one's body or a loved one's body to this program?

    The Applied Anatomical Research Center (AARC) is a research facility with a focus of study on the application of medical, natural, and forensic sciences to the human body. Your body donation will benefit doctors, anthropologists, entomologists, law enforcement agencies, medico-legal death investigators, geologists, and educators. Your donation will also benefit anthropological research and understanding in taphonomy, human skeletal variation, and human osteology. Each body donated to AARC 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 one’s 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.

  • What is the process of pre-registering my body for donation?

    To pre-register discuss your wishes to be donated to AARC with your family, complete the living donor packet (please contact us if you have questions), and return it by email to or U.S. mail to:

    Applied Anatomical Research Center
    Sam Houston Research Centers
    Box 2506
    Huntsville, Texas 77341-2506

  • Can I change my mind after pre-registering?

    Yes, notify AARC if you wish to withdraw your consent to donate yourself. However, once a body has been donated and received by AARC it will remain in the AARC Skeletal Collection.

  • Can I donate body organs/tissue prior to my donation to AARC?

    Yes, however all donations are on a case-by-case basis.

  • What will happen at the time of my death?

    AARC must be notified upon death (936-294-2310). AARC personnel 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 Applied Anatomical Research Center in Huntsville, TX. If the body is outside of 250 miles, there will be a moderate fee to the family. AARC cannot pick up from a private residence. Because of this, the next of kin may have to transport the body to a funeral home. AARC does not cover any fees that may arise in this process.

  • Who is the legal next-of-kin?

    The closest relatives of a deceased individual, as defined by state law, are considered Next-of- Kin. Don’t 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?

    AARC 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 AARC facility:

Applied Anatomical Research Center
Sam Houston Research Centers
Box 2506
Huntsville, Texas 77341-2506
Phone: 936-294-2310
Fax: 936-294-2311