CHAPTER 429

AN ACT RELATING TO DISPOSAL OF DEAD BODIES.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:

SUBCHAPTER VII. DISPOSITION OF BODIES FOR MEDICAL SCIENCE

Section 1. Chapter 17, Title 24, Delaware Code, is amended by adding thereto a new subchapter to read:

§ 1780. Disposing of body to aid medical science; compensation

(a) Any person who is 21 years of age or older and of sound mind shall have the right to direct the disposition to be made of his body or any part or parts thereof after his death, and also the disposition to be made of any part of his body which becomes or which is to become separated therefrom during his lifetime, in order that his body or such part or parts thereof may be used solely for the advancement of medical science or the replacement or rehabilitation of diseased or worn-out organs or parts of similar character of another living person, but for no other purpose.

(b) A person who so directs the manner in which his body shall be disposed of after his death shall receive no remuneration or other thing of value for such disposition.

§ 1781. Written instrument required; witnesses

In order to be effective, the disposition of the body of a person, or any part thereof, pursuant to this subchapter, shall be by written instrument executed by the person making the disposition in the presence of 2 witnesses who shall also sign the instrument as witnesses, and the signature of the person making the disposition shall be acknowledged before a person duly authorized by law to administer oaths.

§ 1782. Contents of instrument; donee

Each instrument executed pursuant to this subchapter may designate the donee of the body or any part or parts thereof, but such designation shall not be necessary to its validity. A donee may be an individual, or a licensed hospital, institution or agency engaged in the advancement of medical science or the restoration of diseased, worn-out or injured parts of living human beings, or a bank maintained for the storage, preservation and use of parts of the body. If no specific donee is named in such instrument, then the Medical Council of Delaware shall be forthwith notified by any person having custody of the body or any part thereof, and the Medical Council shall designate an approved institution to receive such body or part thereof pursuant to section 1773 of this title and for the purposes set forth therein.

1783. Carrying out intent of donor; revocation

(a) The person or persons otherwise entitled to control the disposition of the remains of any person who has executed such a written instrument as provided in this subchapter shall permit the proper carrying out of such disposition made by a deceased, and no testamentary or other disposition whatever made by such person, except by written instrument as provided in § 1781 of this title, shall be effective to revoke or change the power given under such instrument. Neither the appointment of an administrator or an executor, nor a court order shall be necessary before the delivery of said body or removal of said parts therefrom.

(b) Any such disposition of his own body or parts thereof may be revoked by the donor at any time prior to his death or to the actual delivery or removal of any part by a written instrument executed in the same manner as provided for disposition.

§ 1784. Autopsy; permission of Medical Examiner

An autopsy or post-mortem examination of the remains of a decedent shall not delay or prevent the carrying out of any of said directions unless the remains or such part or parts of the remains are required for the purposes of criminal investigation or prosecution, but in the event that the person shall die while incarcerated or by violent or sudden means, or under any other circumstances that would require an inspection of the remains by the Medical Examiner, the written consent of the Medical Examiner shall first be obtained before the provisions of the said instrument are carried out.

§ 1785. Disposition of remaining parts of body

When the requisite parts of the body have been removed in cases where the disposition of the entire body has not been directed, the remains of such person not so removed, shall be the responsibility of and shall be under the control of the person having by law the right to disposition thereof.

1786. Removal by physician; liability

The provisions of an instrument directing the removal of parts of a body shall be carried out by a duly licensed doctor of medicine and/or osteopathy to whom such instrument is delivered, or who may be named in such instrument to carry out the same, and neither the person acting in accordance with this subchapter in delivering the body for the removal of such part or parts, nor the licensed doctor of medicine and/or osteopathy actually making such removal, shall be liable in damages for any action taken in making or carrying out the direction of such instrument, unless he shall have actual knowledge of the existence of an instrument revoking the power contained therein, or except for willful negligence or intentional wrong-doing.

§ 1787. Refusal to accept remains

Any donee of a body or any part or parts thereof designated by written instrument as provided herein may refuse to accept the same by immediate written notice to the next of kin of the deceased person whenever such donee determines that it has no use for the body or part or parts thereof. In such event, burial of the body shall be accomplished by the persons legally responsible therefor in the same manner as if no attempted disposition for scientific or restorative purposes had been made.

§ 1788. Burial of remains

Where no other provision for the same exists, a body, or the remains thereof, after it is no longer needed for the purpose indicated by the donor, may be buried at public expense, on order of the Medical Council of Delaware, but in no case shall the expense of the burial exceed $100.

Section 2. Chapter 17, title 24, Delaware Code, is amended by adding thereto a new section to read:

§ 1777. Post-mortem examination only by physicians; liability; consent

(a) No post-mortem examination of the body of a deceased person shall be conducted by any person other than a duly licensed doctor of medicine and/or osteopathy. Written or telegraphic consent for a doctor of medicine and/or osteopathy to conduct a post-mortem examination of the body of a deceased person shall be deemed sufficient when given by whichever one of the following assumes custody of the body for the purpose of burial: father, mother, husband, wife, child, guardian, next of kin, or in absence of any of the foregoing, a person who assumes the duty of legal disposal of the body. If 2 or more of such persons assume custody of the body, consent of one of them who is legally considered as the next of kin shall be deemed sufficient.

(b) The licensed physician conducting the post-mortem examination shall not be liable in damages for any action taken in making such post-mortem examination.

Approved August 1, 1968.