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 & Consent
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 is not performed at the Medical Examiner's facility as hospital operating rooms are used for this type of procedure. Corneas, bones, and other tissues can be successfully harvested in a wide variety of settings, and the Medical Examiner's donation suite is designed for that purpose.