Body Donation

Thank you for considering your generous donation to the Applied Anatomical Research Center. 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.


There is no cost to you or your family for the donation of your body to the Applied Anatomical Research Center 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.


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

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


To donate the body of a deceased family member complete the Next-of-Kin (Already Deceased) Body Donation Packet and return to the AARC facility at Sam Houston State University. Once the documents are received, the body can be transported to AARC. 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.

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. Please mail the original documents to:

Applied Anatomical Research Center
College of Criminal Justice
Sam Houston State University
Box 2296
Huntsville, Texas 77341-2296

The Donation Packet includes:


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.


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


Most bodies are accepted for donation, however, The Applied Anatomical Research Center 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.


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 a 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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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


Hover over a question to view the answer.

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 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 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 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.

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, we prefer full body donations, but we will accept most body donations.

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 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?
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