Body Donation Program

The Institute for Plastination (IfP) in Heidelberg is the administrator of this unique body donation program founded in 1993 by Gunther von Hagens. The IfP is a private research institute, located in Heidelberg, which focuses on the development and progression of Plastination.

The aim is to produce human specimens and make them available both for basic and continuing medical training of doctors as well as for the general medical education of the public. The specimens are prepared solely for this purpose and only passed on directly to recognized educational and research establishments and scientific museums, but not to private individuals or outside suppliers.

Currently this program has more than 19,000 body donors on its donor roster, with more than 2,800 already deceased donor bodies. The donors come from over 33 countries, with the majority from Germany (about 85%) and North America (about 10%).

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Body Donation for Plastination is not a contract, but a declaration of intent. The donor declares during his / her lifetime that their body is not buried after death, but transferred to the Institute for Plastination. In the consent form and a brochure providing detailed information, the donor is informed about the future use of their body, explicitly including the production of teaching specimens for sale. The Institute for Plastination also organizes regular meetings of body donors.

The motivations of body donors are varied. At the forefront of their thinking is often the request to serve medical education after the death. Many body donors register after visiting Body Worlds exhibitions.

The Institute for Plastination in Germany assumes all costs for the transfer of donated bodies to our facilities. There is no additional financial compensation. This is to ensure that the decision for body donation is undertaken with free will. 

The independent Federation of Body Donors eV (bdk) was founded in Germany in 1999. The association publishes three annual “Body Donation News” issues, and provides information about plastination and body donation online and at events, and establishes contact with other body donors.

More detailed information is available in the Institute for Plastinations 30-page booklet “Body Donation for Plastination”. This may be downloaded below and we will be happy to answer any further questions.