Committed to the Highest Standards
Legal. Principled. Steadfast.
At Anatomic Excellence, our mission is to promote proven, state-of-the-art pedagogical tools for the purposes of anatomy education, training and research of the highest caliber. At the core of this mission is our commitment to maintaining the most stringent standards of ethics.
Anatomic Excellence fields a number of questions related to the ethics of von Hagens Plastination’s (vHP) products. And rightly so. Numerous companies have aimed to replicate the science and success of the von Hagens enterprise – but none have endeavored to achieve the ethical standards set forth by Dr. Gunther von Hagens in 1982, not long after inventing plastination, and refined in 1993 prior to the first BODY WORLDS exhibition.
Expounded upon below, the top three questions we receive are:
Where do the human specimens come from?
All human specimens are sourced from the Institute for Plastination Body Donation Program in Germany. All donors voluntarily consent to plastination during their lifetime. This practice conforms to the Body Donation Program Guidelines outlined by the International Federation of Anatomic Associations.
Who can buy plastinated specimens?
Only qualified users are eligible to purchase plastinated human specimens – most frequently colleges and universities that offer anatomy courses for healthcare and related fields.
Is it legal to sell donated specimens?
Prices associated with specimens sold by Gubener Plastinate are for the preservation or plastination of donated specimens, not the specimens themselves. This practice conforms to the regulations outlined under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act.
Body Donation Program
The Institute for Plastination (IfP) is a private research facility dedicated to the development and advancement of plastination and is home to the Body Donation Program for Plastination.
During an individual’s lifetime, they can choose to enroll in the Body Donation Program for Plastination whereby they consent to plastination for the purposes of basic and continuing anatomy education, training and research, as well as for the general anatomy education of the public. This means that their body is not buried after death, but transferred to the Institute for Plastination for processing.
Body donation for plastination is not a contract, but an informed declaration of intent. To ensure that the decision to donate one’s body to the IfP is undertaken at free will, there is no financial compensation to family or next of kin following the donor’s death. Donors can rescind their declaration during their lifetime and their next of kin can repeal their declaration after their death.
In compliance with rules set forth by the von Hagens enterprise, Anatomic Excellence provides vHP plastinates of human origin only to qualified users. Specimens are never to be made available to private individuals or outside suppliers.
The overarching criterion for consideration is proof that the teaching specimens will be used to fulfill educational, training and research goals. Examples of qualified users include recognized:
Anatomic Excellence is the sole sanctioned agent of von Hagens Plastination in the US, Canada and the Caribbean. Should you encounter another entity claiming to offer vHP in this region, please contact our team immediately. If you are a qualified user outside of our region, reach out to us; we can connect you with the appropriate contact.
Sale of Specimens
Whereas it is legal to donate your body and/or organs to science following death, it is illegal to sell or buy human organs and tissues.
Prices associated with the plastinated specimens sourced through von Hagens Plastination and made available in the US, Canada and the Caribbean by Anatomic Excellence are related to the cost of preservation or plastination of the specimens, not for the specimens themselves.
The plastination process demands significant investments of time and resources. A full body specimen, for example, requires more than 1,500 hours of hands-on labor over the course of more than a year.
VHP strictly restricts the sale of Plastinates of human origin to qualified users.