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The principal use of bequests is for teaching anatomy to medical, dental, physiotherapy, physical education, and science students.

Access to these bodies is not something the students take for granted.

"These people have given up so much, to give people they don't even know a chance to learn.  If we can take even a fraction of that selflessness, caring and kind-hearted attitude into the future, the medical profession will be in good shape."

Holly Cadzow, 3rd Year Medical student.

Thanksgiving service

The 2024 service will be held in Dunedin. For more information please contact the department:

A number of academic staff and postgraduate students in the Department are also using human bodies for  research purposes.

If you are thinking about donating your body, or you are interested in finding out more about this invaluable programme then please read:

The details of the Body Bequest Programme, including criteria for donation.

The history of the Body Bequest Programme

The Thanksgiving Service

Body Bequests
Criteria for Accepting a Body

Documentary about the Body Bequest Programme


The Otago Medical School is one of the last in the world whose students still do significant human dissection. The donors and the students gave filmmaker Dr Paul Trotman permission to follow them through this whole process. This unexpectedly life affirming, sad, funny, and above all human film, is the result.

Watch the trailer for Donated to Science.

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