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Idaho State University

Anatomical Donations

ISU Panorama. Photo by Chuck Peterson.

As the state designated institution for health professions education, Idaho State University provides accredited programs in occupational and physical therapy, dentistry, physician assistant, nursing, pharmacy, radiology, speech pathology and audiology. The Department of Biological Sciences sponsors the Anatomical Donation Program in order to provide excellent educational experiences for students in these programs. This depends on the generous anatomical donations provided by individuals from the community and region.

The Anatomical Donation Program is sponsored by the Department of Biological Sciences in order to provide accredited educational experiences for students in health-related areas of study and training. The purpose of the program is to broaden and enhance educational and research endeavors for these students and faculty.

The Most Precious Gift

The human body is the most precious source of knowledge in all of medical science. Amidst medicine's dazzling array of technology, nothing equals the human body in providing health-professions students with a foundation of experience and understanding that will serve them throughout their careers. The opportunity to explore human anatomy provides an appreciation of the form and function of the marvelous machine that is the human body.

The donations are employed in laboratory courses that are central to the following academic areas:

Biological Sciences
Clinical Laboratory Sciences
Dental Hygiene
Graduate Anatomy Program
Idaho Dental Education Program
Occupational Therapy
Physical and Health Education
Physical Therapy
Radiographic Technology
Speech Pathology and Audiology

Who May Donate

Any person over the age of 18 may donate their body to the program. The next-of-kin of a recently deceased person may also make the donation. Generally it is not possible to accept donations much beyond a radius of 250 miles from Pocatello but we do accept donations as far away as Boise/Nampa. To provide for the possibility that the body cannot be accepted at the time of death, we urge our prospective donors to make alternate arrangements and to clarify this fact with their families to avoid potential misunderstandings.


  • The body has been autopsied
  • Organs (except the eyes) have been removed at the time of death
  • Excessive trauma by accident or invasive surgery
  • Extreme obesity
  • Excessive edema at time of death
  • Presence of viral pathogens (e.g AIDS, hepatitis, encephalitis) that would pose a health risk to staff and students
  • Excessive delays in transportation or distance from the university
  • Patients who have dementia

How to Donate

To indicate your intention to donate your body, contact the Department of Biological Sciences Office at (208) 282-4150 to request an information packet. Sign the accompanying consent forms and have them witnessed by two persons. Or you may download the appropriate donation forms online. If you are over the age of 18 and want to donate your body, use the Anatomical Donation Form If you are the next-of-kin of a recently deceased person, use the Anatomical Donation Form for Next-of-Kin. One copy should be kept with your personal papers, the second copy should be given to your next-of-kin, attorney, or physician, and a third copy returned to us at the address below for our records. The information will be updated as needed. In the packet you will find an identification card that can be carried on your person. If you download the on-line forms, a card will be mailed to you upon receipt of your form. We strongly recommend that you discuss your intention with your family so there will be no misunderstanding as to your wishes.

Mail To: Idaho State Univeristy

            Anatomical Donation Program

            Department of Biological Sciences

            921 S. 8th Ave. Stop 8007

            Pocatello, ID 83209-8007

Procedures to Follow at the Time of Death

Arrangements should be made to notify Downard Funeral Home at (208) 233-0686 immediately after death. Suitability of the donation will be determined at this time. If the body has been removed from the home or hospital or taken to a funeral home, the family is responsible for those related costs. ISU will arrange and pay only for the transportation of the body to the university. Under no circumstances is the body to be embalmed by a local funeral home. Standard embalming procedures render the body unsuitable for donation. Since it is necessary for the Program to receive the body as soon as possible after death, this precludes a viewing or funeral service in which the body is present.

Questions To Ask

How Long will the Donation Be Retained for Use?

Depending on the timing of the donation and the condition of the body, the cadaver will be retained between three to four years.

What Becomes of the Remains?

At the conclusion of our studies, the body is cremated. If the family requests at the time of donation, the ashes may be returned to the family or to a designated funeral home. This should be clearly indicated on the donation forms. The cost of shipping the cremains must be covered by the family ($40-$80, depending on weight). Otherwise the cremains may be relinquished to the Program for final disposition.

Why Should I Consider an Anatomical Donation?

Many people view the donation of their body to medical education as a way of continuing to serve the community and humanity even after their passing. Others see it as a way of relieving their surviving family members of the financial burden of funeral and burial costs. Whatever the personal motivation, each year a number of generous individuals bestow a gift on the students of Idaho State University. The benefits of their donation extend far beyond those select students who have the privilege of intimately exploring the marvelous machine that is the human body. Through this experience and education, those students go on to become health professionals - doctors, dentists, nurses, physical therapists, physician assistants, etc. They, in turn, will give of themselves to provide health care for countless others. Recognizing the selfless gift of anatomical donation makes them more committed to likewise make a meaningful and caring contribution to their communities. The sacrifice of family members, their willingness to share their loved ones with others at a time of separation and loss, is also keenly felt and gratefully acknowledged.

For More Information

Anatomical Donation Program 
Department of Biological Sciences 
Idaho State University 
Pocatello, ID 83209-8007 
(208) 282-4150 
Email Jackie Coffin at