Human Body Donation Program
Please note that the LSU FACES Laboratory Human Body Donation Program is not associated with the LSU School of Medicine.
Unlike other anatomical donation programs, body donation through the LSU FACES Laboratory is perpetual, meaning that the remains will not be returned to the next of kin, but will be retained and curated indefinitely for teaching and research. Please discuss donation with your family members before committing to the program.
The donation of a person's body after death is a tremendous gift. Donations to the LSU FACES Laboratory enable research focused on helping to resolve unidentified and missing persons cases. Additionally, these donations provide education for students and law enforcement in forensic anthropology. At the LSU FACES Laboratory, we are grateful for everyone who expresses any interest in the body donation program.
Information regarding the LSU FACES Laboratory Human Body Donation Program is listed below; however, if you have any questions about the program before you make a commitment to body donation, do not hesitate to contact us.
General Donation Information
When participating in the LSU FACES Laboratory Human Body Donation Program, we ask that you complete several forms regarding the remains being donated. If you are interested in willing your body or donating the body of a deceased family member to the LSU FACES Laboratory, please discuss the forms and your wishes with your family and contact us with any questions you might have.
All donors will be placed at the LSU Forensic Taphonomy Education and Research Facility (FTERF) which is a secure, outdoor decomposition research facility created in partnership with the Louisiana State Police. After placement at the FTERF, all remains will be curated at LSU in the LSU FACES Laboratory Donated Skeletal Collection.
We do not accept donations in cases where:
- The individual has contracted any form of infectious disease, for example, Hepatitis (A, B, or C), tuberculosis (TB), or antibiotic resistant bacterial infections such as MRSA, even if the disease is contracted after donation is arranged.
- The individual has contracted Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and received a diagnosis of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) during their lifetime.
- The individual is cremated.
- The individual is embalmed.
- The weight of the individual at death exceeds 300 lbs.
Living (or Willed) Donation
Living or willed donation refers to when a person directly consents to donating their remains to an institution for research and educational purposes. At the LSU FACES Laboratory, this can be coordinated by contacting Sophia Reck at 225.578.4931 or email@example.com.
Donors will be asked to fill out a Donor Information Form, a Donation Consent Form, and a Death Certificate Information Worksheet. The Donation Consent Form does not need to be notarized, but does need to be signed by a witness. For living donations, we suggest giving copies of the form to your legal next of kin, attorney, and physician.
When a pre-registered donor has passed away, contact your local coroner's office to report the death. Then, please contact Sophia Reck (firstname.lastname@example.org | 225.578.4931) or Dr. Ginesse Listi (email@example.com | 225.578.3906) with the name of the decedent and someone will contact you as soon as possible.
Upon death, LSU FACES Laboratory personnel will pick up remains from a funeral home, hospital, coroner's office, or hospice center within the state of Louisiana. We cannot pick up remains from private residences or from out of state. Transport of remains will be arranged within 24-72 hours. Temporary storage arrangements may need to organized by the next of kin and any charges incurred during this process will not be covered by the LSU FACES Laboratory.
Next of Kin Donation
Next of kin donation refers to when the legal next of kin of a deceased person wishes to donate the remains to an institution for research and educational purposes. The next of kin will be asked to fill out a Donor Information Form, a Donation Consent Form, and a Death Certificate Information Worksheet. The Donation Consent Form does not need to be notarized, but does need to be signed by a witness.
Next of kin donation to the LSU FACES Laboratory can be coordinated through your local coroner's office.
Statement on Structural Violence
Many disciplines, including biological anthropology, were founded within power structures that have exploited historically marginalized communities in the name of scientific progress. Throughout history, human skeletal remains have been amassed for skeletal collections intended for biological, anatomical, and osteological research without obtaining consent from the individual or their next of kin. Sustained consent and transparency are key factors in the ethical treatment of human remains. The linked statement discusses the measures taken by the LSU FACES Laboratory to limit perpetuation of structural violence toward deceased individuals.
Frequently Asked Questions:
We strongly recommend that you make your family members aware of your wishes and discuss all final arrangements. Ultimately, the legal next of kin determines the final disposition of the body. Discussing your wishes with family members ahead of time helps ensure that your wishes are fulfilled.
For all donations, paperwork requesting information required to obtain a death certificate will be mailed from the LSU FACES Laboratory to the next of kin and should be returned as soon as possible (prepaid envelopes will be supplied). The first copy of a death certificate will be provided for free and mailed out by the LSU FACES Laboratory. The next of kin can expect to receive the death certificate in approximately six to eight weeks.
If additional copies are needed, requests can be sent to the Louisiana Department of Health and will cost $7.00 each.
FACES personnel will transport remains from a funeral home, coroner's office, hospital, or hospice center anywhere in Louisiana at no cost. However, temporary storage arrangements may need to organized and any charges incurred during this process will not be covered by the LSU FACES Laboratory.
The cost of obtaining additional copies of the death certificate is not covered by the LSU FACES Laboratory.
Human body donations allow researchers, law enforcement, and students to learn about decomposition, recovery methods, and human osteology. Initially, donated remains will be placed outside at the FTERF and allowed to decompose naturally. Skeletal remains are then incorporated into the LSU FACES Laboratory Donated Skeletal Collection.
For this program, donations are expected to be perpetual, meaning that remains are curated at the LSU FACES Laboratory indefinitely. Consequently, we suggest discussing donation with family members before committing to the program.
The LSU FACES Laboratory has on-going, active forensic casework; therefore, the lab is not open to the public.
Sophia Reck, MA
FTERF Manager, LSU FACES Laboratory
Department of Geography & Anthropology
227 Howe-Russell Building
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Ginesse Listi, PhD, D-ABFA
Director, LSU FACES Laboratory Department of Geography & Anthropology
227 Howe-Russell Building
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Monday - Friday: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm
E-mail is the best way to reach FACES Laboratory staff after hours. Please provide a phone number in the e-mail if urgent contact is needed.
Transport of remains can be arranged within 24-72 hours. Temporary storage arrangements may need to be organized by the next of kin.