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March 23, 1994

Can Forensic Medicine and Organ Donation Coexist for the Public Good?

JAMA. 1994;271(12):891-892. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510360011005

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IS GIVING 100% too much to ask? Medical examiners in some parts of the country say it may be, particularly if organ procurement organizations are doing the asking.

Relationships between medical examiners and procurement agencies have been laced with tension for years. But the stress may be mounting. Some specialists in forensic medicine say procurement agency approaches have become increasingly aggressive. In a handful of states, they add, laws allow organ harvesting to supersede death investigations, potentially jeopardizing evidence in criminal cases.

"Some [procurement organizations] are almost zealous," says Thomas Hegert, MD, the organ and tissue committee chair of the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME). "They want us to give 100% of those cases for which we have received consent for organ procurement."

Procurement agencies dispute that characterization. "There is a lot of misunderstanding," says Teresa Shafer, RN, president of the North American Transplant Coordinators Organization (NATCO). "We're looking

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