FAQs

Have a look at the answers to these frequently asked questions.

Yes of course you can. However, the application to become a body donor is NOT done via the Department of Anatomy. You will need to apply separately via the organ donation website.
Yes, the family can of course make funeral arrangements, if that is their wish. 
The University of Malta is responsible and will pay for:
  • the transport of the body from the location where the death certification has been made (as long as this is in Malta or Gozo) to the Department of Anatomy, where the body will be embalmed, and
  • eventually, if necessary, the transport of the body from the Department of Anatomy to the place of burial at a designated site at the Addolorata Cemetery.

The family of the donor is responsible and needs to cover the costs of any other arrangements, for example a Mass or any other religious service held 'presente cadavere', as well as the transport to and from such a funeral service.
Yes, once yearly, on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, the University of Malta organizes a memorial service / ceremony of appreciation for donors. This falls on the Friday before Good Friday (March / April). Please consult the Anatomy notice board page for further details. This service is held at the University Chaplaincy.
What is a codicil and do I need it?
A codicil is a statement in your will stating your wish to donate your body to the Department of Anatomy, University of Malta, after your death.
Should you already have a codicil in your will stating that you would like to donate your body to the Anatomy Department, University of Malta, please do send us a copy together with the filled in Bequeathal Form. However, please note that with effect from February 2020, this codicil is no longer mandatory, as long as the Bequeathal Form is duly filled in and signed.
No, the University of Malta bears the costs when transporting the body from the place of death (if located in Malta or Gozo) to the Department of Anatomy. However, the family of the donor is responsible and needs to cover the costs of any other arrangements, eg a Mass or any other religious service held ‘presente cadavere’, as well as the transport to and from such a funeral service.
The Department of Anatomy at the University of Malta takes care of transportation from place of death (must be located in Malta or Gozo) to the University of Malta.
Yes, in the great majority of cases, after the medical studies and research has been conducted, the body will be buried at a designated place at the Addolorata Cemetery (unless otherwise indicated). There are some exceptions made in certain circumstances, which are made on a case by case basis.
The body is buried at a designated burial site at the Addolorata Cemetery in Paola, unless otherwise stated by yourself, for example, in the case of having a family grave and wishing to be buried there.
Yes, of course. Kindly let us know beforehand in order to make appropriate arrangements. It is also important to leave written instructions in this regard with your next of kin.
This depends upon the type of research and medical studies involved, however typically the body is kept at the Department of Anatomy for 1-2 years. However, there are exceptions and these are made on a case by case basis.
There are a few criteria that prevent us from accepting certain body donations. These include:
  • the need for a coroner’s post-mortem
  • infectious diseases ( Hepatitis, HIV, TB, COVID-19)
  • weight over 120kg.

If the notification to the Department of Anatomy is made after 24 hours of death, as it will impair the embalming process. The Head of Department of Anatomy reserves the right to accept/refuse any donation on a case by case basis.
If a body donation declined, it will be the responsibility of your next of kin to make alternative arrangements. As there may be circumstances in which we are unable to accept your generous donation, having an alternative plan will lessen the stress for your next of kin at the time of death.
Unfortunately we are unable to accept bodies after a post-mortem due to the fact that we would need to preserve the body within 24 hours of death.
As soon as possible after death has occurred, the executor, next of kin or health care professional must contact the Department of Anatomy at the University of Malta, as per the information sheet provided at the time of application. Prolonged delay in notification can result in the decline of the donation. Please note that as a condition of acceptance to the University, we must receive the body within 24 hours of death for effective embalming.
The body is embalmed and will form a very essential part in an education program where students of the medical and health care professions learn about the normal structure of the human body, as well as pathologies which can occur. Some bodies are also available for the advanced postgraduate education programs for health and medical professionals, including surgeons, anaesthetists, general practitioners and nurses.
No, you cannot typically request that your donation be used for a particular study. Research groups do not always know in advance what projects they will be working on when they receive a donation.
Yes, financial contributions are accepted. Cheques made payable to the Department of Anatomy, University of Malta may be sent by post to the following address: Head of Department of Anatomy, Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery (on Campus), Biomedical Sciences Building, University of Malta, B’Kara Bypass, Msida MSD2080, Malta.
All you need to do is write to us confirming that you wish to donate your body after death, for the purposes of education and research. Once we receive your letter / email / telephone call, we will send you the required forms to be filled out, signed and sent back to us. An information letter will also be sent to help with the filling out of the forms. Once we receive your forms, we will then send you a confirmation letter.
The next of kin or executor is necessary, as this is the one who will be alerting us once the inevitable occurs. In case of the demise occurring while in hospital, the health care professionals looking after you can inform us of the demise, as long as they have been informed and have a copy of the paperwork of your body donation in your medical notes.
No, the body donation is accepted only if YOU have given clear informed consent and made a signed declaration of your wish to donate your body to the Department of Anatomy, University of Malta.
The body cannot be viewed by any family members or friends, once it has been transported to the Department of Anatomy.
There are no age restrictions for body donations. In the case of babies, infants or children under the age of 18 years of age, the parents or legal guardians have to sign and give consent on their behalf. These cases are dealt with on an individual basis with the direct involvement of the Head of Department of Anatomy.
Kindly send us a letter stating your wishes to withdraw your donation. You do not have to state a reason for the withdrawal and your decision will be respected at all times. Again, for this withdrawal to be effected, you need to also inform your next of kin and/or executor, so that we are not informed of when the inevitable happens.
Unfortunately, to date there are no cremation services being offered.
The Department of Anatomy will have to rely on the designated next of kin/s and/or executor to inform us of the demise, within 24 hours of death. This highlights the importance of having the signed paperwork beforehand, as proof that this body donation was done with the consent of the donor, and having the designated person/s to inform us immediately once the donor dies. If we are not informed that the death has happened, or if there is a delay of more than 24 hours, we are not in a position to receive the body donation.
Yes. It is advised to discuss your plans with those close to you so that your wishes are clearly understood.
In the unfortunate event that a potential donor dies outside Malta or Gozo, the University of Malta cannot accept the body, because the 24 hour time window for embalming will have expired. Also, the University of Malta will not cover the transportation outside the Maltese archipelago. The forms filled and signed for body donation are applicable for the University of Malta only. Other Universities are not obliged to accept the body donation.
A next of kin, or else a professional, for example a medical doctor, notary or lawyer, can witness your donation.
If you are admitted into a hospital, move to a retirement community, a nursing home or any type of care facility, it is recommended that a copy of the confirmation letter be placed in your medical notes/file, chart or care plan. When death occurs, the Department of Anatomy, University of Malta should be notified immediately. Arrangements will then be made to receive the body donation.
Ideally, when handing in your application for body donation, please complete the section on any relevant medical history. This is very useful information especially when the medical research is taking place on the body.
We treat every body with confidentiality, therefore your personal information will not be disclosed in research findings.
Yes, there may be instances where we need to take photographs, scans or even videos, however the body will be unidentifiable and thus confidentiality is still maintained.
The bodies are needed for medical students and other students involved in the healthcare profession, either directly or indirectly, in order to study the human body, including variations, anomalies and any pathology present. Such aspects of human anatomy are difficult to convey in lectures, books or via computer-generated images, where the focus is on ideal scenarios rather than the complexities of real human anatomy. As well as educating medical students, students who are studying for their Masters and doctoral degrees, together with medical doctors during their specialisation, may also conduct research projects and practice surgical techniques.
Yes, a letter will be sent to next of kin whose contact details have been noted down in the original application. This letter is sent a month prior to burial.
No, however if your family wishes to organise one, we are more than ready to oblige. The University of Malta will cover the cost of transportation from the Department of Anatomy to the designated burial site at the Addolorata Cemetery in Paola. Any costs for any extra services requested specifically by the family will need to be paid by the family directly to the Funeral Director involved.
The University takes care of the costs to transport the body to the designated site at the Addolorata Cemetery in Paola. However, if the family should wish to hold a funeral service, the family is responsible for the expenses in that case.
You are more than welcome to visit our Department of Anatomy and Research Labs. We kindly ask you to contact us beforehand for an appointment. Please contact at the Department of Anatomy, University of Malta:
by email: anatomy.ms@um.edu.mt or call +356 2340 3825/2340 3871 during office hours (from 08:00 to 17:00) during term time (otherwise up to 13:30 during the summer holidays).

https://www.um.edu.mt/ms/anatomy/bequest/faqs