Whole body donation and brain donation

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The vast majority of people in Sweden who are over 18 years of age has the potential to become donors of blood, organs or tissue. As a donor, you help to save the lives and health of others or contribute to medical education and research.

Whole body donation for anatomy teaching

Karolinska Institutet welcomes donations of whole bodies for anatomy courses on the medical, dental and physiotherapy programmes. If you would like to donate your body for this purpose after your death, you need to sign a special agreement with Karolinska Institutet beforehand.

Anatomy teaching departments at Karolinska Institutet and Linköping University collaborate on receiving the bodies of deceased people as so-called whole body donations. The donor has in such cases during their lifetime given the university disposal of their body after their death.

An invaluable teaching resource

The bodies are used in medical students’ anatomy teaching and to a slightly lesser degree also on the dental and physiotherapy programmes. Whole body donations are an invaluable resource and have unique qualities in the teaching. No sophisticated computer simulations or high-tech imaging technologies can take the place of the added values that using a real body brings. Such studies also give students information about variations between individuals, ages and genders.

The anatomy course is moreover most students’ first encounter with a deceased person at this early stage of their education. This usually leads naturally into in-depth discussions and teaching segments on ethics and professionalism in medical activities.

More donors are needed

Donations are unfortunately too few for anatomy teaching’s needs and aims at present. One reason is probably that the general public do not know enough about whole body donations.

Who normally wants to be a donor?

When a person decides to donate his or her whole body, it is important that they personally and without reservation desire to make the donation: “I want to benefit medical science”. Those who contact Karolinska Institutet to donate their body have generally given the matter careful consideration. They have discussed it with their relatives and are in agreement with them.

How does one donate one’s body?

A person who wishes to donate their body fills in a form where they among other things provide information about themselves and their relatives and enter into an agreement on whole body donation with Karolinska Institutet.

When people who have donated their body eventually die, Karolinska Institutet is informed and the body is brought to the university to be used in teaching. When the teaching comes to an end, the university arranges and pays for a funeral. This undertaking includes obtaining a death certificate and other requisite documents, coffin, shroud, transportation and burial. (Other things, for example notices in newspapers and officiating priest, however, are not included.)  In some cases, it is for various reasons not possible to accept the body when the donor dies. Karolinska Institutet is then unfortunately not able to pay any funeral costs.

It is also possible to donate one’s whole body in this way and still register as an organ donor for transplants. Organ donations generally have priority whenever possible.

Contact details for whole body donations

For documents and further information, please contact


Johan Södergren

Phone: +48 8 33 68 55 or +48 8 524 869 64
E-mail: helkroppsdonation@ki.se
Address: Department of Neuroscience,  teaching section
Karolinska Institutet
Berzelius väg 3
171 77 Stockholm

The Brain Bank

Many have heard about organ donation for transplantation but less is known of the need for tissue from the brain and spinal cord for research purposes. The type of tissue donation unrelated to transplantation is not covered by the national donation program, and a separate registration at the Brain Bank at Karolinska Institutet is required for research.

Everyone who wants to support research by donating tissue can become a donor at the Brain Bank. Persons who wish to contribute to neuroscience can, after having given an informed consent, donate his / her brain and spinal cord for clinical diagnostics and research. The Brain Bank provides information booklets and consent forms.

The Brain Bank is a center for clinical and experimental neuropathology with the aim to facilitate studies on the development, aging and diseases of the human central nervous system.

The Brain Bank at Karolinska Institutet

More on donation

Blood donation

Donation of blood-forming stem cells

Organ donation

Human subject research