When deaths are investigated, pathologists sometimes retain an organ for further testing to help determine the cause of death.
In the past, family members may not have been notified that an organ had been retained. Now, families are routinely notified when an organ is retained and their wishes are sought regarding how the organ should be treated after testing is complete.
The Ontario Forensic Pathology Service is reaching out to anyone for whom the loss of a family member before June 14, 2010, resulted in a coroner’s investigation and autopsy.
Immediate family members and personal representatives (i.e. those responsible for administering an estate) are invited to contact us to find out if an organ was retained in their case.
Some organs that were initially retained are no longer available due to the practices of the time. Others are still at the hospital or forensic pathology unit where the autopsy took place. In those cases, affected families and personal representatives may now request that the organ be sent to a funeral home for cremation or burial. Expenses will be covered by the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service and the Office of the Chief Coroner.
Remaining organs retained before June 14, 2010, will be respectfully disposed of beginning on June 14, 2013. This is in accordance with regulations made under the Coroners Act.
A toll-free telephone line has been set up.
Callers may be asked to provide personal information. This information may be collected pursuant to s. 38(2) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for the purpose of processing requests regarding organs retained pursuant to the Coroners Act. Questions about the collection of this information can be directed to the Issues Manager, 26 Grenville Street, Toronto, Ontario, M7A 2G9, 416-314-4046