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When people make plans for their final disposition after death, many choose to donate all or part of the body to medicine. It's a generous gesture. But because there are different types of anatomical gifts, it is important for people to understand more about them before they make a decision. There are actually two kinds of anatomical gifts: body donation for medical research and organ donations for transplants. Usually a body is donated for one of these purposes, but not both.
According to the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, a model law created in 1968 to provide guidance to states passing their own laws, any person older than age 18 may agree to donate all or any part of his or her body after death. Many states allow people to become organ donors simply by filling in a space on their drivers license. If a person has never indicated that he or she wants to be an organ donor, doctors can get permission from members of his or her family in this order of priority: spouse, adult son or daughter, parent, adult sibling or guardian.