It's not the typical type of donation sought, but the University of British Columbia is in need of particular items: cadavers.

The Vancouver-based school said there's always a need for bodies, which are used in teaching and research, but lately, there haven't been many available.

The school says there's been a "significant decline" in donations of cadavers to a program that has been in operation since 1950.

The program typically gets between 80 and 110 bodies donated a year, UBC said, but lately, it's about 45 to 50.

And it's not a unique situation, a spokesperson said in an email.

"Universities across North America are experiencing this trend."

These bodies are used by students in medicine, biomedical engineering, dentistry and other fields to learn anatomy, practice surgical techniques, test new devices and other uses.

Those interested in donating their remains can register in advance, similar to with organ donation programs.

At the time of their death, their next of kin or health care provider will then contact the UBC Body Donation Program, which must receive the body within 72 hours for it to be of use.

Cadavers will remain in the school's care for six months to three years, and some parts may be retained indefinitely, if the person or their next of kin agrees to it.

After that, the school will arrange for cremation and the person's loved ones can collect their ashes.

UBC will cover the costs of the cremation, but not transportation of the body to the campus, unless the person dies in the Metro Vancouver area.

Donors must be over the age of 30, and the university can choose to decline donations in certain cases, so those thinking about donation should have a backup plan. Conditions that may prevent donation include HIV/AIDS, severe antibiotic-resistant infections, obesity, extensive trauma to the body and autopsy. UBC may also turn down the bodies of those who've donated their organs, had some types of cancer or major surgery, and some other medical conditions.