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“Donating a body to science” is a familiar phrase to almost everyone and many residents of Massachusetts have already designated themselves organ and tissue donors on their driver’s licenses through the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

There are technical differences between registration methods for these generous options, however, plus a lesser known brain donation option. All options are governed by the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act.

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles makes it easy to register as an organ and tissue donor. Frequently Asked Questions about the program are informative.

Donating your entire body to medical research involves creating an Instrument of Anatomical Gift for a medical school. UMass Medical, Tufts, Harvard, and Boston Universities all accept bodies.

Brain donations are a separate donation category and are not compatible with organ donation. The National Institute of Health established a centralized NeuroBioBank in 2013. Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center in Waltham is part of this neurological research network. Harvard’s program does not accept binding advance registration from donors. Binding consent is given just after death by the legal next of kin.

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