The Genesis Legacy program provides an opportunity to make an ongoing contribution to medical science and the education of healthcare providers.
Why choose body donation?
Even after death, you can make a real and lasting difference in the lives of millions, giving others a better chance at life by participating in groundbreaking medical training and research.
Genesis arranges transportation, death certificates, and cremation at no cost to your family. For families who may be financially exhausted or object to traditional expensive funerals, the Genesis program offers a noble and dignified alternative.
Ashes are returned to your loved ones or interred in a mausoleum in the Memphis area, avoiding the ecological burden of a typical burial.
Peace of Mind
Donors are accorded the utmost respect and dignity during their stay with us. For each medical training procedure performed, the MERI treats each donor as a living patient. MERI is accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) and licensed by the New York State Department of Health.
How do I become a donor?
You may pre-sign into the program by filling out the donor forms available here, or at the time of death, a legal authorizing party may arrange for the donation using the Third Party Authorization form in the donor packet linked above.
Acceptance is contingent on each donor's medical suitability at the time of death. You may review our donor criteria in the "Can You Be a Donor?" section to determine your eligibility for the program.
The Genesis Donation Process
Complete the donor registration forms.
Inform your family or legal authorizing party to contact Genesis at time of death.
Upon notification, Genesis provides transportation of the donor to the MERI and files appropriate paperwork including death certificates.
Donor participates in medical education, training, and research for 6-12 months.
Cremated remains are returned or interred in a mausoleum in the Memphis area.
Please call us at 877.288.4483 (GIVE) or visit our FAQ Page.
Can you be a donor?
The Genesis Legacy program accepts donors whose death occurs in the states highlighted in blue:
MERI's Board, staff, faculty, students and researchers appreciate all who generously plan and hope to become anatomic donors. These gifts allow for the continuous improvement of patient care.
MERI must limit its acceptance of anatomic donors to those donors who at the time of death can be "good teachers,” free of infectious diseases that could harm the learner. Additionally, the donor's physical condition must be suitable to create a safe, high-quality learning experience.
For these reasons, MERI cannot accept any generous donor who at the time of death has one or more of the following conditions:
Any STD (herpes, genital warts) in the past 12 months
Syphilis - Donor has had any note of Syphilis within their lifetime
Decubitus/open wound(s) (stage 3 & 4)
Donor has spent more than 12 hours without being refrigerated after the time of death
Donor does not have the completed donation paperwork and acceptance process to MERI within 24 hours of time of death
Encephalitis or meningitis
Excessive edema (swelling)
Hepatitis C - Donor has had any note of Hepatitis C within their lifetime
Injected drug use in the past 12 months
Jail or prison time in the past 12 months
MRSA (at time of death)
Multiple surgical implants (both hips, both knees, spinal implants)
Radioactive seed implants
Sepsis (at time of death)
Signs of decomposition or odors
Staph infection (at time of death)
Tissue donors who have not limited their donation to eyes, organs, and upper long bones from arm
TB (Tuberculosis) - Donor has had any note of TB within their lifetime
Under the age of 18 years old; there is no upper age limit
Weight over 250lbs
West Nile virus
If life saving measures, such as blood transfusion or extreme IV hydration, are performed within 48 hours of death, hemodilution testing will be performed to determine donor eligibility prior to donor acceptance.
If you have any questions regarding the above conditions please call a Genesis representative.
What We Provide For Our Donors and Their Families
At the time of death, we will:
Provide the transportation of the donor from the place of death, as permitted by state regulations, to the Medical Education and Research Institute (MERI) in Memphis, Tennessee
File and pay for six death certificates
Provide a letter detailing the research the donor has made possible
Pay for the cost of the cremation of the donor after research has been completed
Return the cremated remains to the designated authorized party or provide the option for the donor to be interred in a mausoleum in the Memphis area
Maintain an open-door policy at the MERI welcoming pre-signed donors and donor families to visit and tour our facility if they wish
Without our generous donors, the medical education, training, and research conducted at the MERI would not be possible. Donating one’s body to science is a tremendous gift and enduring legacy, reflecting an extraordinary commitment to life and to the wellbeing of others.
Community & Bereavement Resources
We are honored to be a resource for you and your family as you navigate end-of-life decisions. Please take advantage of this page to find the support systems and community services you may need. We will update it as new information becomes available so check back often!
Bereavement and Grief Support Systems
AARP Grief and Loss Resources Support after the death of a senior
National Widower’s Organization Support for men grieving a loss
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Support for suicide survivors
Griefnet.org Support for adults grieving a loss
Hellogrief.org Support for adults and kids grieving a loss
American Cancer Society Coping with the loss of a loved one
12th Annual Donor Appreciation Celebration
On September 30, 2018 MERI held its 12th annual Donor Appreciation Celebration. There were over 300 guests in attendance.
This year’s celebration included an honor ceremony for the veterans who came to the Genesis Program last year, with remembrances including a flag folding ceremony and a dove release.
We welcome your questions if you are considering joining the Genesis Legacy program. If you have a question that is not answered here, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to assist you.
Am I eligible for body donation?
Most adults who are interested in body donation are able to make this gift. Please see "Can You Be A Donor?" for exceptions.
Is the Genesis program available in my state?
The Genesis Whole Body Donation Foundation program accepts donors whose death occurs in the states highlighted in blue:
How can I register for the Genesis program?
You can pre-register by filling out the Genesis Donor Consent forms which may be downloaded here, or contact a Genesis representative to receive an information packet. Once we receive your completed donor consent forms, we will reply by mail and include several donor cards for you. Donors who are not pre-registered may be accepted at the time of death if they meet current donor criteria. A legal authorizing party may complete the paperwork on the donor's behalf.
Can a person be an organ donor and a Genesis donor?
Yes, you can sign the back of your driver’s license, or any other Advance Directives document to be an organ donor and complete our forms to be a Genesis donor.
Can I request which type of research I would like my body donation to benefit?
Although the MERI conducts educational and research programs in all areas of medicine, it is based on the needs of the sponsors. If you would like your donation to support a specific form of medical research, we suggest you contact that organization and register with their program directly. Through the Genesis Program, you can be assured that critical life-saving training, education, and research will greatly affect the lives of many people throughout the world.
How soon after death should the Genesis program be contacted?
Immediately. It is imperative that the Genesis program be notified immediately so that proper care may be given to your loved one. We have staff on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to receive telephone calls toll-free at (877) 288-4483 (GIVE). If death is imminent, you may also notify the Genesis program to advise us in advance.
Who is responsible for transporting the donor to the Genesis program at the MERI?
Upon notification of a donor’s death and after Genesis staff have completed the screening process to confirm acceptance, arrangements will be made by Genesis for the transportation and care of your loved one. You will not have to make any transportation arrangements.
How and when will I receive the death certificates?
The Genesis program at the MERI will file and pay for six death certificates. We will forward the death certificates to you as we receive them. It generally takes between four to six weeks for the MERI to receive the death certificates.
How long will the donor stay at the MERI?
Donors remain at the MERI from six months to a year.
What happens when the studies on the donor have been completed?
The Genesis staff arranges to have the donor cremated at no cost to the family and sends a letter detailing the research the donor has made possible.
Is it possible to have the donor's cremated remains returned?
Absolutely. Upon cremation of the donor, the cremated remains may be returned to the person designated by the donor. If there is not a designee appointed at the time of death by the donor or by the legal authorizing party, the donor's cremated remains will be interred in a mausoleum in the Memphis, TN area. If a legal authorizing family member requests the cremated remains after that time, the remains will be removed from the mausoleum and returned to the legal authorizing party or family member.
Current Donor Registration Forms
To submit your donor registration forms, please complete the following steps:
Click Download the Genesis Donor Forms below. (You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed to open this type of file.)
Complete the forms online and then print OR print first and complete neatly by hand.
The completed forms MUST be signed by the donor and two (2) witnesses.
Mail the completed and signed Donor Forms packet to:
Genesis Legacy Whole Body Donation Foundation
Medical Education & Research Institute
44 South Cleveland
Memphis, TN 38104
Forms can also be mailed to you to complete and return. Please click here to be directed to our online request form.