The Medical Examiner has jurisdiction over the entire body of a deceased person (all organs and tissues) in any case of death that falls under the legal authority of the Medical Examiner as defined by state statutes. The Medical Examiner may allow release of certain organs, tissue or corneas to allow harvesting for donation to proceed, but does not authorize the harvesting or donation. Authorization or consent for harvesting corneas, organs or tissue must be obtained from the surviving family of the deceased (next-of-kin). The Medical Examiner may restrict the harvesting of corneas, organs or tissues in order to preserve the ability to conduct a thorough forensic death investigation. It is the practice of the Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office to be as least restrictive as possible and still maintain high standards for death investigation.
Determining if the deceased person is suitable for donation is not the Medical Examiner's area. The identification of acceptable donors is the responsibility of the organ and tissue procurement agencies.
The harvesting of organs, bones and other tissues is not done at the Medical Examiner's facility - hospital operating rooms are used for those types of procedures. Corneas can be successfully harvested in a wide variety of settings and the Medical Examiner's autopsy suite is sometimes made available for that purpose.