Organ & Tissue Donation
What is the MEO role in organ & tissue donation?
At the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office, one of our goals is to facilitate organ and tissue donation for the benefit of the family and the community.
For example, if an individual has a serious head injury and meets brain death criteria, he/she may be a candidate for organ donation. Examples of current organ recoveries are whole hearts, lungs, kidneys, pancreas and liver.
If an individual has died, they are eligible for tissue donation only within 24 hours after the time death. Examples of tissues recovered are skin (split and full thickness) for burn patients, long bones (tibia, fibula, femur, humerus, and pelvic bones) for total and partial bone replacement surgery, tendons (achilles, anterior and posterior tibialis, and knee ligaments) for reconstruction of torn tendons, vascular tissues (heart valves, saphenous and femoral veins) for vascular repair, and corneas for whole cornea replacement.
In hopes of facilitating this lifesaving contribution to society, it is our policy at the Jackson County Medical Examiner to call an organ procurement organization on every death reported to our jurisdiction.
After the organ/tissue procurement organization receives the information about the individual who has recently died, they then may approach the family about donation.
Medical & Social History
If the family decides to donate, the organ/tissue procurement organization then will ask about a medical-social history. These questions will help to determine if the individual is a candidate for donation. If the individual meets the organization’s criteria for donation, the Medical Examiner will be asked to grant permission for donation on cases under our jurisdiction. In all but the rarest of cases, donation does not interfere with the Medical Examiner’s duties. In those cases, extraordinary measures (such as the Medical Examiner attending the organ procurement to directly observe any pathology) will be taken to facilitate the family’s wishes to make the gift of life.
Please refer to the following websites for further information on donation.