Medical Examiner Release

After the next-of-kin has given consent, the medical examiner (ME) may need to be contacted regarding release of the body for donation. Homicides, suspicious deaths, suicides, accidents, and deaths occurring from unexpected or unexplained natural circumstances are investigated by the ME's office. The goal of the ME investigation is to determine the cause and manner of death. Evidence is collected and documented for the support of such conclusions.7 Organ donation is not con-traindicated when an autopsy is required. For example, if the donor suffered a gunshot wound to the head, the autopsy may just involve physical evidence such as hand scrapings and a thorough examination of the patient's head. Working collaboratively with the ME for the preservation of evidence, the RSC may have the hospital staff place paper bags on the donor's hands, allowing the patient to become an organ and tissue donor. In conjunction with transplant surgeons, the OPO provides the ME thorough documentation and interpretation of injuries, documentation of the integrity of the organs removed for transplantation, and the preservation of trace evidence. In addition, the medical examiner's office may allow the retrieval of the eyes or corneas, as well as other tissues after the autopsy is completed.

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