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Flower Arrangement

Tissue Donation

Flowers on a Tombstone

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. 

Recently, an 18 year old hero from Kentucky, Aaron 'Mick' Crawford, tragically passed away after three days of life saving work during the flood relief in summer of 2022. His cause of death is, and will remain, unknown because he was rushed to be an organ donor before an autopsy could be completed, giving his family no closure for his death. 


A 2019 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.

And donating your corpse to science can also be problematic. In 2023, Cedric Lodge, the manager of Harvard’s morgue, was charged with selling brains, hearts, skin, and other body parts to members of several Facebook groups that were platforms for buying and selling “oddities”. In addition, Lodge allowed two oddities traffickers to enter the school’s morgue to shop for body parts. The indictment noted that the traffickers requested human skin to be turned into leather.

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