The body will be carefully embalmed and kept until it is studied. Each body is treated with respect and dignity throughout the donation process. After the study, the body will be cremated and disposition is made according to the instructions we are given by the next of kin or the person designated to carry out the final disposition of cremains. There are several options that can be made. The cremated remains can be returned to the family, cemetery or funeral home for a private burial or they can be picked up by a designated person at Vanderbilt. The cremains can be buried in a burial site owned by Vanderbilt and shared with Meharry Medical College. Each spring, a simple graveside burial service is held for donors who choose to be buried by the medical school. Family members are welcome to attend this service. These arrangements are generally made with the nearest of kin after the donor's death. The ashes are normally available two years after death.
Since medical schools cannot function as funeral homes in terms of services and facilities; and although we feel a high level of dignity is maintained in the treatment of bodies, the burial and other disposition is necessarily handled in a practical manner. Families should feel free to engage a funeral director to perform any service which the medical school cannot provide in regard to the final disposition.