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theengel
06-19-2007, 10:14 AM
What happens to a John Doe when he dies in a hospital? What if it's not a John Doe, but there's no relative to claim him?

What about the organs. If he it says so on his license, I guess they take his organs? What if he doesn't have a license? Do they harvest his body before turning him over to wherever he's supposed to go?

Jo
06-19-2007, 11:10 AM
What about the organs. If he it says so on his license, I guess they take his organs?

If he has a license to identify him, he wouldn't be a John Doe. :)


What if it's not a John Doe, but there's no relative to claim him?As far as I know, the government has the Public Trustee here in Aust. that takes care of that. I'm not sure about elsewhere, but it may be similar.

jclarkdawe
06-19-2007, 03:06 PM
That's the situation down in New Orleans at the moment. They have about 30 bodies they haven't been able to identify and a total of about 100 that aren't being claimed. Eventually, they'll bury them.

My guess would be that they probably don't harvest anything because by the time a decision is made, the organs would have been dead for too long. I can't imagine this is a fast process. They have to be checked against missing persons, wait a suitable time for someone to notice Uncle Buddy is missing, and so on.

Jim Clark-Dawe

zenwriter
06-19-2007, 05:57 PM
Here in Canada, I know that the state buries those bodies that cannot be identified. They do have to wait a while to make sure that no one comes forward. When I was in a local funeral parlor arranging services for a family member, I noticed that in one section of the office there were plain wooden boxes. The director explained that they were for those who are buried at the cost of the state, in many cases. Apparently, the home picks up the body and buries it. I imagine they send the bill to the government. Iím not sure if this is relevant for your research, but I get the impression that the service provided would be very minimal and sad.

Little Red Barn
06-19-2007, 08:22 PM
Here, the State pays for a decent funeral with a group of about 6 students always on standby, a minister praying over graveside. A paupers funeral, its called, still respectable.

Maryn
06-19-2007, 09:04 PM
Here, the state pays, too, if no one claims the body. I don't know of any service being held.

However, remember that if an unclaimed body gets much publicity, often people will pay for a "decent burial" and attend a service.

I'm fairly sure (but not 100% positive) that no organs can be harvested from the deceased unless the person or their heirs specifically say they can. Time is of the essence. It's a matter of hours before they become unuseable, not enough time to determine that the person is going to remain unidentified and usually not enough to determine what their wishes were. That's why some states now put that on the drivers license, and why people are urged to make sure their loved ones know what they want.

Maryn, who says you can take anything you want, once I'm done with it, except my brain

The_Grand_Duchess
06-20-2007, 12:52 AM
There's a movie about this very subject. A documentery where they follow the bodies of jane/john does. The state buries them in pauper's graves. If anyone knows what film I'm talking about chime in.

I think they were also trying to come up with a shrink wrap plan to lower the cost to the state.

Soccer Mom
06-20-2007, 11:15 PM
In this area, those unclaimed are creamated and buried at State's expense. NO harvesting unless the person specifically had provided for it.

theengel
06-21-2007, 12:48 AM
If he has a license to identify him, he wouldn't be a John Doe. :)


I said what if it isn't a John Doe but there's no one to claim him.

Maryn
06-21-2007, 06:35 PM
There's a movie about this very subject. A documentery where they follow the bodies of jane/john does. The state buries them in pauper's graves. If anyone knows what film I'm talking about chime in.That's A Certain Kind of Death (http://imdb.com/title/tt0342180/).

Maryn, who had to ask somebody

Lyra Jean
06-21-2007, 07:43 PM
OH maybe this was answered and I just lack the reading comprehension this morning.

What if it's not a John Doe and it's on their Driver's License that they are an organ donor. Would they go ahead and harvest the organs even though no one's claimed the body?

Maryn
06-21-2007, 10:19 PM
I can't say for sure, rosemerry, but I would think so. It's what the deceased person himself/herself wanted done with their organs, not what their heirs want.

Maryn, whose organs might make fine hot dogs

Redhedd
06-28-2007, 12:28 AM
Regarding organ donations-- one thing you need to know is that most of the major organs (heart, kidney, liver) have to be harvested while the person's body is still technically "alive." In other words, they have to be pronounced brain dead while in a hospital setting and be on a ventilator etc. Heart valves, corneas, and long bones have to be harvested within 24 hours of when the person was last known to be alive. (And this is why it is so important to be an organ donor. The circumstances that make it possible to donate major organs are so rare that actual useful donations become even rarer.)

Regarding pauper burials: In Louisiana, it is generally up to each Coroner's office to decide when/if a body receives a pauper burial. In our parish there is one local funeral home that provides a graveyard for pauper burials. Unclaimed bodies are never cremated. The office here has held bodies for over four months waiting to hear from family regarding funeral arrangements (and it's even more complicated when it's someone from outside the country.) If a body is turned over for pauper burial, the grave is recorded with GPS coordinates, but there is no headstone and the location is not released to the family. This is to avoid having cheapo families allowing the state to pay for the funeral. Of course families can still get the location through Vital Statistics, but most people don't realize that.

Also, something to think about in reference to bodies being held until families can be found: bodies in a morgue cooler are still decomposing, just not as quickly as out in the open. Morgue coolers are NOT freezers. Even after just a few days in a cooler, a fresh body will have marbling and the beginnings of decomp. After four months in a cooler, that body is liquid mush.

Lyra Jean
06-28-2007, 09:23 AM
that's something I didn't know about morgue coolers. I thought they were freezers.

The_Grand_Duchess
06-28-2007, 07:54 PM
Yeah I didn't know that either. That's a bit of knowledge I hope to never have to use.

mommyjo2
06-28-2007, 10:23 PM
Someone has to sign the legal document allowing the organs to be removed (and you can't do that if you are dead). You can provide for it while you are alive, through a Living Will, or by signing paperwork because you KNOW you are going to die.

The little box on the driver's license is not considered legal permission to take organs, it's more for the family or whoever to know what you'd want so they'll sign.

And the person who has to sign to take organs must be next of kin (husband, etc.) OR the person named as Durable Medical Power of Attorney. The POA gets preference.

Of course, if someone is taking organs without quite getting proper permission, than that's quite a dramatic situation!

Unclaimed bodies are buried, eventually, by the state.

RumpleTumbler
06-28-2007, 10:27 PM
Here, the State pays for a decent funeral with a group of about 6 students always on standby, a minister praying over graveside. A paupers funeral, its called, still respectable.

What are the 6 students for? Carrying the box of rotting meat?

Cath
06-28-2007, 11:27 PM
I assume they're there to give the deceased a little dignity in death, RumpleTumbler.

RumpleTumbler
06-29-2007, 12:32 AM
I assume they're there to give the deceased a little dignity in death, RumpleTumbler.

You mean like hired mourners? That's sad.

If I died right this minute I'd only have maybe my daughter and whoever gave her a ride to the funeral unless someone was paid to come. I'd rather no one be there than people be paid to come. Who was that King that made it a capital offense to not mourn his death for like a week in the bible? What a psycho.

theengel
06-29-2007, 12:51 AM
Of course, if someone is taking organs without quite getting proper permission, than that's quite a dramatic situation!


exactly...

But I also know about the people who are paid to convince family members to give up bodies for harvesting...they're like dogs they are. At the hospital where my wife worked, they would get the decision maker in a locked room and get down and dirty about the selfishness of keeping a body alive when the organs could really be used by someone else.

RumpleTumbler
06-29-2007, 01:00 AM
At the hospital where my wife worked, they would get the decision maker in a locked room and get down and dirty about the selfishness of keeping a body alive when the organs could really be used by someone else.

I hope they brought their checkbook.

katiemac
06-29-2007, 01:16 AM
Can I hijack this thread to ask a question(s) of my own? Hopefully I'm not intruding on theengel.

Does anyone have a clue on the steps necessary to bury someone without going through a coroner first? I have a character who has legitimate reasons to bury someone who was murdered. He didn't do the murdering, but he can't let it go through a police investigation, and wants to give the person a proper burial. What kind of documents do funeral homes need for this to be possible, assuming he already has a funeral plot?

Or, the other direction... If he lets the body be found, goes through the police investigation (to no results), and then later claims the John Doe, what documents would the hospital need for his proof? He's not family, but no one else would claim the body.

RumpleTumbler
06-29-2007, 01:17 AM
I have a character who

Surrre you do.

katiemac
06-29-2007, 01:26 AM
Surrre you do.

Yeah, yeah. ;)

I was watching some Dateline show the other night and they were discussing a case where a woman was convicted of murdering her husband, partly due to Google searches they found on her computer, including "how to commit murder," "undetectable poisons," among other things.

I thought... "Oh, great!"

mommyjo2
06-29-2007, 01:54 AM
"Does anyone have a clue on the steps necessary to bury someone without going through a coroner first?"
Yes. Get a shovel and a remote location...LOL

Well, there needs to be death certificate, which would involve a coroner. Also, if the funeral home is not picking up the body from the hospital, how are they gonna get the body? You can't take a body YOURSELF to the funeral home.
And that scene from Little Miss Sunshine, where they come pick up the body out of the trunk... would never happen!

PenTeller
06-29-2007, 01:59 AM
All I know about this I "learned" from CSI. Anyone know if it's true that Jane/John Does' coffins are stacked on top of each other at burial?

PenTeller
06-29-2007, 02:01 AM
Yeah, yeah. ;)

I was watching some Dateline show the other night and they were discussing a case where a woman was convicted of murdering her husband, partly due to Google searches they found on her computer, including "how to commit murder," "undetectable poisons," among other things.

I thought... "Oh, great!"

Ha! Great. As a writer, I'm screwed, I suppose. Hopefully no one I know will die from an insulin overdose anytime soon.

katiemac
06-29-2007, 02:21 AM
Yes. Get a shovel and a remote location...LOL

Well, there needs to be death certificate, which would involve a coroner. Also, if the funeral home is not picking up the body from the hospital, how are they gonna get the body? You can't take a body YOURSELF to the funeral home.

Ha, of course. Thing is, the character wants said dead person buried in a specific cemetary plot (a plot he owns). I suppose he could get a shovel and do this in the middle of the night (he does have a habit of trying to dig people UP, after all...), but I was seeing about the plausibility of going through a funeral home, since that's what the character would try to do.

Of course, any funeral details most likely wouldn't make it into the script, but it's good to know your research.

Lyra Jean
06-29-2007, 07:33 AM
If you want your victim (character) to get buried without an autospy being performed I think said person needs to die in a hospital. Everyone who dies outside of a hospital gets autopsied to rule out homicide.

Totally double check what I'm saying. I've only heard this from other people.

Redhedd
06-29-2007, 08:40 PM
I work for a Coroner's office, so I'm going to claim a small amount of expertise in this area.

Morgue coolers are not freezers because it is wicked hard to perform an autopsy (or an embalming) on a piece of frozen meat.

There is no realistic and legal way to have a person buried in a regular funeral plot without the coroner's office being notified. Every. Single. Death. is reported to the coroner.

It's not true that all deaths outside of a hospital setting get autopsied. Hospice patients, or patients in nursing homes will usually get released over the phone. (i.e. the nurse will call the office and we will take the necessary info and then release the body to the family so that they can make funeral arrangements.) Non-hospice patients, or patients who have only been in a hospital for less than 24 hours, or any other "natural" death warrant a visit from the coroner's office investigator. At that time the investigator will assess the scene, the decedant's medical history, and examine the body. After getting as much info as possible, the investigator will call the pathologist who will then advise whether or not the body needs to be brought in or can be released.

Any sort of unexplained death, possible overdose, suicide, homicide, motor vehicle accident, and any death of a child (unless hospice) will almost always be brought in to the morgue.

Now then, even if a body is brought in, that still doesn't mean it's going to be autopsied. In single-car MVAs, the pathologist will sometimes just do an external exam and draw vitreous, urine, and blood for toxicology testing. Even suicides sometimes get that treatment if there's enough compelling evidence that it most certainly WAS a suicide.

Your basic autopsy takes 45 mins to an hour. Homicide autopsies can take far longer, especially if there's a great deal of digging for projectiles. Also, most pathologists won't/can't do more than four autopsies in a day unless there's a seriously pressing need. And, in the spirit of "keeping things real," unless your coroner's office has its own toxicology lab, expect tox results to take 6-8 weeks.

Lyra Jean
06-29-2007, 08:45 PM
That's interesting. Thanks for the info. I didn't think my info was 100%.

katiemac
06-29-2007, 09:19 PM
Redhedd, excellent information. Thanks!

The_Grand_Duchess
06-29-2007, 09:45 PM
What about for certain relegions? The ones that states the body has to be in the ground within 24 hours of death. I think the Muslims and some Jewish sects are like that.

I may be just making stuff up though, so double check that.

Kate Thornton
06-29-2007, 10:12 PM
All I know about this I "learned" from CSI. Anyone know if it's true that Jane/John Does' coffins are stacked on top of each other at burial?

My step mother was thought to have no next of kin. Although buried in a pauper's grave, she was not buried in a coffin.

She had been under a doctor's care prior to her death from bronchial infection (according to the death cert) but had been transported from the nursing home to a hospital. She expired somewhere during transport and the hospital lost her records. The County cremated her and buried her ashes in a pauper's grave with everyone else who was unidentified or had no next of kin.

I found out about her death about a year later and meticulously traced her existence through several nursing homes. I was shocked, as I lived in the area, thought I had been listed as a relative, and had a formal cemetery plot reserved for her next to my father. We were not on speaking terms, but I thought she was being cared for. I found out about her death through an insurance company which had a premium credit and tracked me down as next of kin.

It was a weird couple of weeks of real detective work. I kept thinking I'd find her, that there was some mistake. The hospital that lost her records & sent her to the County went out of business shortly after and I re-constructed the events from interviewing people who used to work there.

I finally found out when & where she died and was able to request a death certificate with that information.

I still feel odd about the whole thing. Maybe I would have been better off never knowing.

Redhedd
06-29-2007, 11:39 PM
Re: religions

Yes, things work differently according to the decedent's religion. I know that our office does everything possible to keep the proceedings within the confines of the religion. I don't know specific details, but I do know that every effort is made.

This includes death notifications too, as one of our investigators found out recently. She went to give notification to the daughter of a woman who had just died, but when she tried to speak to the woman, the husband grew quite upset. In their culture it was the husband's role to receive information and then pass it on to his wife.

Redhedd
06-29-2007, 11:43 PM
Oh, also wanted to add, in our jurisdiction unidentified decedents are never officially called Jane or John Doe (because it's possible that there are actual living people with those names.) They are referred to as "Unknown W/F" "Unknown B/M" etc... Supposedly more and more coroners are going that way, so if you use Jane or John Doe you might want to check.

Skyraven
07-09-2007, 04:53 AM
What happens to a John Doe when he dies in a hospital? What if it's not a John Doe, but there's no relative to claim him?

What about the organs. If he it says so on his license, I guess they take his organs? What if he doesn't have a license? Do they harvest his body before turning him over to wherever he's supposed to go?


If there is no id or license, and his body is not claimed in NYC, the person is buried out in Potter's Field. I don't even know where it is, but I know this much. And legally, if they harvest organ without the person's consent, it is assault on a corpse.

Hope this helps.

Skyraven