NIDCD National Temporal Bone, Hearing and Balance Pathology Resource Registry

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions You May Have About Donation

It is likely that you have some questions about temporal bone donation. Here are the answers to some of our commonly asked questions. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact the Registry for further information.

Am I too old to be a temporal bone donor?
No. No one is too young or too old to be a donor. Age does not affect the scientific value of your temporal bones.

Does removal of the temporal bones change the donor’s appearance?
No. Removal of the temporal bones (and brain) does not change the appearance of the head, face, or outer ear. So, it does not affect funeral or burial arrangements, including an open casket.

Is there a cost to the donor’s family or estate?
No. The medical professionals who remove the temporal bones donate their time or are paid by the laboratory receiving the temporal bones.

Is an autopsy necessary?
The consent form in the temporal bone donor packet gives permission for a limited autopsy for temporal bone (and related brain tissue) removal. In special circumstances, temporal bones may be removed without an autopsy.

Can I donate my body to science for anatomical study and also donate my temporal bones?
It depends. The policies of donor programs for anatomical study vary. Discuss this with your local body donor program to determine whether it is possible to donate to one or both programs.

Can I donate other organs for transplantation as well as my temporal bones?
Yes. The removal of the temporal bones would simply be delayed a few hours so that transplantable organs can be removed first.

What is the role of my next of kin?
In most states, the next of kin makes the final decision about organ or body donations. Inform them and your doctors of your wish to be a temporal bone donor. Be sure that they understand that their cooperation is needed.

Can I donate my temporal bones even though I have normal hearing and balance?
Yes. Researchers need to study normal temporal bones in order to better understand how different diseases affect hearing and balance.