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Acceptance at time of death

While the Department endeavours to accept all registered bequests, the condition of the body and some circumstances at the time of death may prevent us from being able to do so.

The following checks can be made before contacting the Department.

Restriction criteria

The department is not able to accept a body if the person has:

  • a BMI (body mass index) greater than 30.
  • an infectious disease such as Hepatitis B or C, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, active Tuberculosis, or is HIV positive.
  • undergone complicated and/or extensive major 
surgery within a month of death.
  • displayed rapid onset of dementia, within six months of death.
  • lived in the United Kingdom, France or the Republic of Ireland between 1980 and 1996 for a cumulative period of 6 months or more.
  • undergone a postmortem examination.
  • passed away while outside the accepted Dunedin/Invercargill/Christchurch and Nelson/Marlborough areas.

Cause of death (as noted on the HP4720)

The doctor who completes the HP4720 Medical Certificate Cause of Death is asked to check for the following conditions.

  • Sepsis
  • Peripheral oedema
  • Renal failure
  • Ischaemic bowel
  • Ruptured aortic aneurysm
  • Large open wounds
  • Gangrene

If any of the above conditions appear on the death certificate, the Department is unable to accept the bequest.

Bequest registration

When the above checks have been made, the Department can be contacted during normal business hours to check if the deceased is registered as a body donor.

Phone: 0800 580 500
Please note: this number is monitored by Gillions Funeral Services during weekends and public holidays.

If the donor has not completed a Bequest Registration Form prior to death, the body cannot be accepted.