Skip to main content

LA Times: Death Investigations Upended By Organ Collection Prior To Autopsies

Bodies at the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, one of the biggest and bus...

Credit: Courtesy of Andres Cediel for FRONTLINE

Above: Bodies at the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, one of the biggest and busiest in the country.

KPBS Midday Edition Segments podcast branding

A new Los Angeles Times investigation uncovered multiple instances where companies harvested organs, skin and bones before medical examiners and coroners were able to conduct their autopsies. At least two of those cases happened in San Diego County.

Aired: October 17, 2019 | Transcript

For-profit tissue procurement companies must harvest organs soon after a person's death in order for them to be transplanted safely into a living person.

But a new Los Angeles Times investigation uncovered multiple instances where those companies harvested organs, skin and bones before medical examiners and coroners were able to conduct their autopsies.

The companies said they aren't doing anything wrong. They claim that no death investigation has ever been affected by harvesting.

But reporter Melody Petersen's investigation found otherwise. She detailed numerous instances where investigations into suspicious deaths came to a halt because of tissue procurement happening before a body could be examined. At least two of those cases happened in San Diego County.

Petersen said the companies are able to do this because of a law that was largely written by lobbyists for those same companies.

Petersen joined Midday Edition Thursday to discuss her reporting.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.