My daughter died in a car accident. The funeral parlor that retrieved her cadaver from the hospital where she had been brought told us that her internal organs were removed. We inspected the cadaver and true enough, her internal organs were missing and what were inside her stomach were crumpled newspapers. We felt that the hospital disrespected our dead. Is the hospital allowed to just remove any body parts from the cadaver?
The hospital may be allowed to remove any organ of a person after his death subject to the requirements or conditions provided under Republic Act (RA) 1056 or an Act Amending Republic Act 349, entitled “An Act to Legalize Permissions to Use Human Organs or Any Portions of the Human Body for Medical, Surgical or Scientific Purposes, Under Certain Conditions.”
Section 1 of RA 1056 provides, “A person may validly grant to a licensed physician, surgeon, known scientist or any medical or scientific institution, including eye banks and other similar institutions, authority to detach at any time after the grantor’s death any organ, part or parts of his body and to utilize the same for medical, surgical or scientific purposes. Similar authority may also be granted for the utilization for medical, surgical or scientific purposes of any organ, part or parts of the body which, for a legitimate reason, would be detached from the body of the grantor.”
The authorization referred to in Section 1 of this law “must be in writing; specify the person or institution granted the authorization; list down the organ, part or parts to be detached, the specific use or uses to which the organ, part or parts are to be employed; and signed by the grantor and two disinterested witnesses. If the grantor is a minor or an incompetent person, the authorization may be executed by his guardian with the approval of the court; in default thereof, by the legitimate father or mother, in the order, named. Married women may grant the authority referred to in section one of this Act without the consent of the husband. After the death of the person, authority to use human organs or any portion or portions of the human body for medical, surgical or scientific purposes may also be granted by his nearest relative or guardian at the time of his death or in the absence thereof, by the person or head of the hospital, or institution having custody of the body of the deceased: Provided, however, that the person or head of the hospital or institution has exerted reasonable efforts to locate the aforesaid guardian or relative. A copy of every such authorization must be furnished the Secretary of Health (Section 2, Id.)”.
In your case, the hospital clearly violated the provisions of RA 1056 because of its failure to obtain the necessary written authorization from you in order to remove the internal organs of your daughter.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have nar rated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com