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Can’t pay for burial? Cook County morgue to donate bodies to science

Monday, October 03, 2011
Chicago Sun-Times

The bodies of those who die in Cook County whose family members can’t pay for burial will be automatically donated to science, according to a new policy implemented by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

The new protocol was detailed Sept. 27 and deemed “effective immediately” in a memo from Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Nancy Jones.

If a family of a deceased person claims there is no money for burial, the medical examiner’s office will inform the family that the remains will be released to the Anatomic Gift Assocation within two weeks of the body having being received at the morgue, the memo said.

In cases where there is no family, the family is not immediately available or the case is being held for storage, the responsible police agency will make all efforts to locate and notify the next of kin that the body will be donated to science if they cannot claim the remains within two weeks of the body being at the medical examiner’s office, the memo said.

There’s one sticking point. In cases where the remains are decomposed, if the person had AIDS or was HIV positive; or if the person was more than 300 pounds, the cases will not be accepted to the Anatomic Gift Assocaition and the body will be buried by the county in the usual fashion, the memo said.



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