NEW YORK — New York City’s medical schools will no longer accept unclaimed bodies from the medical examiner for students to study.
The schools will rely on donations instead, Associated Medical Schools of New York announced Wednesday.
“Donating your body to science is the ultimate gift a person can make. We can’t train future doctors without these donations and, in many cases, we can’t make medical discoveries that lead to cures and life improvements without them,” said AMSNY President Jo Wiederhorn.
Current law requires hospitals and morgues to hand over unclaimed bodies to schools in as little as 48 hours, but that could change if new legislation makes its way onto the books.
The New York Assembly and Senate recently passed legislation that, if signed by Governor Cuomo, would forbid medical examiners from giving unclaimed bodies to universities, colleges, schools or institutes without consent from next of kin or consent given by the deceased prior to death.
Brooklyn State Senator Simcha Felder sponsored the legislation. He was concerned that dissection could violate a person’s religious practices or beliefs.
ASMNY, which had been against the bill, said Wednesday they would not urge Gov. Cuomo to veto the bill.
The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office started providing schools with unclaimed bodies 40 years ago because of a shortage of donors for medical research, ASMNY said. Schools last received bodies from the medical examiner in 2014, but only 20 of the 800 needed annually for education and research.
The practice stopped after a series of mix-ups where the medical examiner’s office sent the wrong body to schools for examinations. Schools have had to step up promotion to boost donations since.
Most of the state’s medical schools have donor programs. CUNY College of Medicine and Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine are both in the process of creating donor programs.