Biologically dead donors cannot donate whole organs, as these rapidly begin to decay after blood flow ceases. However, many tissues can be donated from corpses and remain viable for transplantation, such as corneas, bone, heart valves, skin, and fat. One of the surprising things we learned while researching our book is that morgue donation can also have its pitfalls.
“Tissue” is a group or layer of similar specialized cells that together perform a specialized function.
A recent LA Times article, “In the Rush to Harvest Body Parts, Death Investigations Have Been Upended”, revealed that organ procurement organizations (OPOs) in California have been harvesting tissues from bodies BEFORE the coroner was able to examine them. Thus, in over 20 cases, the coroner could no longer determine (due to the amount of tissue destruction caused by the harvest procedure) the actual cause of death or whether these people had died as the result of a crime. Families were left not knowing what caused their loved ones’ death and were denied justice in cases of probable homicide. The damage this lack of closure and denial of justice has had on bereaved families is incalculable.