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Sudden Death and the Coroner

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10. Will organs or tissue be retained
      after post mortem and special

       examinations ?


Coroner's Post Mortem  Once the coroner is satisfied that the cause of death is known and organs need no longer be kept because of possible criminal or civil proceedings, the organs must be returned to the body. The pathologist must have the written consent of next of kin for the retention, or further removal, of any organs or tissue for research or teaching purposes.


Consented Post Mortem  If the cause of death is known and a coroner is not involved, doctors may ask for a post mortem to better understand the cause of death or for research or teaching purposes, or you can request a post mortem because you want to know more about the cause of death. The reasons why more information can be helpful must be fully explained to you and your written consent must be given, whether a doctor or you yourself request the post mortem.


Limited Post Mortem  You can restrict a consented post mortem to examination of an organ, a particular part of the body, some laboratory tests or to special examinations. (Section 5)


If organ retention is requested for laboratory tests or special examinations, or for research or teaching, your consent should be included in your agreement to a consented or limited post mortem examination. You should also be asked for consent for any organ retention that goes beyond confirming the cause of death, when the coroner has ordered the post mortem.


Your consent to a post mortem, special examinations or organ retention will be valued because all post mortem findings can help to improve treatment and increase medical knowledge, particularly of rare or genetic diseases that may be hereditary.


If you are uncertain or concerned about organ retention, you may find it helpful to contact the National Bereavement Partnership 08452 267227.







7     Also known as Hospital Consented Post Mortem or Hospital Post Mortem,
      but post mortems are not only associated with hospitals - doctors or relatives
      may request a post mortem for deaths that occur outside hospital. The Royal

       College of Pathologists is using the term Consented Post Mortem.

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