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My mother is still alive. When she dies, I want her autopsied. To confirm the Alzheimer's diagnosis among other reasons. I contacted the medical examiner in my county and was told they don't do autopsies on request. Either the person has to die at home, or for a mysterious reason, or via foul play. If the person is at a nursing home, which my mother is, the nursing home would have to facilitate the request. Without going into all the details, my mom's nursing home will not cooperate, so I can't count on them at all. The person who answered the phone said she "thinks" I could get a "private pathologist" but of course doesn't know anyone and has no idea how to get that ball rolling.


I live in NY, in Nassau County. Any information will be appreciated. Thank you.

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Thank you Rainmom. I appreciate that.
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Christine - best of luck to you. I sincerely hope it works out for you as you wish. I also want to very sincerely apologize if I made you feel judged. That honestly wasn't my intention - I guess I had hoped to suggest that there might be a simplier route to find what you are looking for. Whatever is in store for us after we pass is an ever changing mystery to me - but whatever it is, I've always been sure - a matter of believing with no evidence why - but I'm sure we won't be needing our earthly body. Never feel judged for doing what you believe to be just and right.
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Hi everyone, original poster here. I want to thank you all for responding to my question. Usually, when I ask a question here, I get very few, if any, responses, so I'm grateful that this question has gotten so many replies.

Jeannegibbs--you're my woman. Thank you for coming to my defense. Although this may not have been the intention, I felt very judged by some of the responses, as if I were asking permission to do something "bad" or "socially unacceptable." I chose not to disclose my reasons and open myself up for an examination/evaluation/ridicule of them.

I plan to look into "private" autopsies through both a hospital and an Alzheimer's research organization and I'll be glad to share with this group how it turns out for me.

Thanks for caring.
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My mother's death was the result of an accident she had a month prior to her death. Because the cause of death was "accidental" they hospital pushed heavily for an autopsy by the medical examiner (I believed it was to make sure they would not be called at fault). My mother, in life, was an Irish Catholic and believed that she would need her body later, when she is raised to heaven at the end of days. Therefore, I INSISTED no autopsy. In fact I had to fight VERY VERY hard for them not to do one. Even if the death were natural there is no freaking way I'd allow that to happen to her...not because of my thoughts that it is invasive, but because of HER beliefs during life. Her primary care doctor said that even if I didn't want a medical examiner autopsy that they would do one at the hospital with him in attendance (I think they though I had a problem with the stigma of a medical examiner autopsy...as if they were looking for a crime or something, but that was not the case). What was in fact happening was that my mom's primary care doctor WANTED accident on the birth certificate, as he knew that her life insurance would pay out double, but he wanted to make sure that we weren't going to sue or do something if he did that. He is also my doctor...he is a very good man.

Also, I was given the impression (by the hospital) that anyone can request an autopsy by a hospital, but a medical examiner autopsy is only done if there is a question about the cause of death (as in my mom's case) or a potential crime. You certainly should have no problem requesting a hospital autopsy and they are usually very eager to do them as they learn a lot from them and can add to very important research for the future.

In my case, I intend to be cremated. If my organs or anything else can be used, they will be donated first. If any research company wants a piece of me they can have it. I don't have any problem with that for ME. But for my mom it was a different story.

Angel
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I think we all have probably watched enough NCIS to know what an autopsy might look like so I am not going there. In the UK we can opt for bodies to be given over to further medical science. If so (and bear in mind I don't have a clue if it is possible) perhaps there is an option through that route to get an autopsy - you must know in advance though that you wont get the body of your loved one back - just bear in mind that the soul lives on for ever while the body was only its mortal carrier although some religions do not share this belief I know so my apologies to them in advance
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Honestly, my reaction to the "gruesome" comments and stories I hear when the subject of cremation comes up depend on the person, what is said and how it is said. Often such comments can open the door to a good discussion and a chance to exchange viewpoints and philosophies. Even if it's utter nonsense, in my opinion - it can be an oppertunity to educate, for lack of a better word. But always it is another's opinion - which they have a right to and I respect that. As long as it is not said mean-spirited or in a manner that ridicules, I don't let it bother me as I am comfortable in my own beliefs.
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And do you think those gruesome stories and reactions are appropriate?
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Point taken. In my own defense I can only say - while it is not an everyday occurrence I have had many discussions with people over the years regarding funerals, burials, cremations, etc. While this question here was not asked me in the first person, it was asked me as a part of a group - and it was the first time I've ever "known" anyone to ask about having a private autopsy- it is a bit out of the norm. Next time I'm asked about this same subject I'll know better how to react. And on a side note - I do get all kinds of "gruesome" stories and reactions regarding my preference for cremation - all the time.
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This is off-topic. Since the OP's question has been answered by several posters, I hope she has what she needs and this diversion is not disruptive.

I think my reaction is to the stigma attached to autopsies. There are some very good reasons for exploring the body after life has left it. It does not greatly delay any following procedures. It can happen before a burial or a cremation. It can happen before an elaborate public funeral or a pauper's burial.

If someone asks "how do I arrange a certain kind of burial service," we don't typically think it our duty to inform them of all the "gruesome" procedures involved in preparing a body for burial and all the reasons we couldn't imagine doing that to the body of a loved one. Similarly if someone asks how to arrange cremation we don't typically give a lecture on the "gruesome" process that the body goes through or describe the cremains and tell the poster not to make the disposal of the body "complicated."

We accept that different people have different views about how dead bodies should be treated.

I simply wish that included an acceptance of the sometime-benefit of examining the body medically before whatever will happen to it next.
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Before I get dinged on my spelling again - I meant thorough rather than through in the second use of the word "through". I am, quite honestly - dyslexic. I apologize (again) for my error.
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Jeannegibbs- I must have communicated my message very poorly for you to get the impression and assumptions you did. I never said "ewww - gross". I mis- spelled EVASIVE, with my intended point being - it's a lot to go through and in my follow-up post wondered if there might be a simplier way to get the information the OP is looking for. As you know well, an autopsy is a very through procedure- I am not using the word EVASIVE as you are not seeing I meant it in purely a clinical definition. As for your assumption I approve of embalming- I don't. Again - just my opinion. I alway have and always expect to - view a deceased body as an empty "vessel" best returned to nature quickly and efficiently- by cremation. I am truely sorry if I offended you or anyone else for that matter - that was never my slightest intention.
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Rainmom, your are certainly among the posters I always take seriously and whose opinions I respect.

Now that we've gotten the mutual admiration declarations out of the way, I want to explain my reactions in this thread.

My husband's body was autopsied. Every organ was taken out and weighed. The top of his cranium was sawed off and his brain was examined closely. Slices of brain tissue were captured and preserved and remain in a brain tissue bank in Florida, where they are still available for examination as research into dementia continues.

No one tried to talk us out of this decision. No one has criticized me for allowing this invasive activity to be performed on my beloved husband's empty vessel (at least not to my face).

It apparently was OK for us to do this because it was for a noble cause -- a cause the person reacting believes in.

I strongly do not believe that Christine73 has to tell us her reason and justify her decision in order to ask for simple factual information -- how to carry out her decision.

If you believe that an autopsy is "invasive" but embalming is not, you are entitled to that belief. Absolutely. And you are eligible to express that belief. But expecting others to share that belief or other beliefs seems to me out-of-bounds on a public support forum such as this one.

Rainmom, you can't imagine having this done to a loved one. I could and I did. The "Euw, that's gross" kind of reaction is insulting, though I know it is not intended to be.

Christine, I hope you find the information you need, and I hope the cost is commensurate to the benefit to you.
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If your still looking for places that might have an idea where this is done at the families request - as Veronica indicated, hospitals might know and I was thinking maybe funeral homes or even an attorney that specializes in wrongful death suits.
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My experience with this was a patient's family asked for this to be arranged. I called the local medical examiner and he directed me to call the Medical Examiner at the nearest large city. When I spoke with her she agreed to do it the following day and to prepare the family that the cost would be $2000 as long as the body was delivered to the mortuary. Transportation was done by the Funeral Home chosen by the family for final arrangements. Not really a problem just one I had never encountered before.
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BTW - from Websters Dictionary on line: "invasive
: tending to spread
medical : involving entry into the body by cutting or by inserting an instrument". That's all I meant when I used the word - even in my mid-spelled version. No judgement- just personal opinion.
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Jeannegibbs- I usually find myself agreeing with your advice - I honestly think you are some of the smartest, kindest, sensable, compassionate people posting here. However - when someone posts here - on a anonymous, public forum isn't it the point to get advice or opinions - even if they vary from their own? As long as it is done in a manner that is not rude or judgemental?
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An autopsy was performed on my husband, as part of his participation in a research program. We did not consider it too evasive. His body went from the autopsy site to the crematorium.

We are each entitled to our beliefs about the body after life leaves it. I would hope to see the different beliefs respected on this site.

Please don't tell others not to be invasive or to complicate matters if their (our) beliefs don't correspond to yours.

BTW, I did not receive the autopsy results for several months, but the procedure itself was completed promptly and there was no delay in arranging and holding the memorial service.
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No problem not wanting to share your reasons. Since I can't imagine reasons beyond looking for foul play or genetic markers, I'm basing this suggestion on my limited imagination - have you talked with a doctor, genetic counsler, forensic expert etc. to see if there may be less evasive ways of getting the information you seek?
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I looked into this for my cousin. I'm still debating on what to do.

I contacted a program that used to be active that accepted cases for autopsy of patients who have dementia. They conducted these autopsies for research on the condition and those with suspected Alzheimers. It was located at a major medical center. The body is returned intact after the procedure. When I contacted them, I found out that they no longer are accepting these cases. They referred me to another group, but I can't recall their name.

I might contact a major medical center in your area and see if they have a program like that. Also, you might call your state's Medical Examiner Office to get info on a private autopsy, which does cost money. I think you are advised to set it up in advance with the place who is doing it, the facility where the patient resides and the transportation provider.
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I did some research on the Internet... any next of kin, relative, executor of the estate can request an autopsy, it has to be in writing. Average cost for a basic autopsy is $2,500. A complete autopsy with neuropathology costs an average $4500.00 and the final results would take 60-90 days.

Some relatives request an autopsy to find out about a inherited diseases, also if one thinks there has been malpractice or medical neglect.

This can vary from State to State.
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Cant people pay for one?
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There are several good reasons I want my mother autopsied. Personal reasons. Sorry.
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Do you understand how utterly evasive an autopsy is? They literally remove every organ, weigh it and sometimes run tests on samples of the organs. The top of the skull is power sawed off and the brain is sliced open for a section to be tested. Sorry to be gruesome - and while I personally believe that the body is merely a vessel - I can't imagine doing this to someone I loved - by choice. Also - I can imagine it's incredibly expensive.
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Christine, I also am curious why you feel the need to have an autopsy done.

My Mom had passed being in late stage dementia which was caused by her stubbornness not wanting to use a walker, thus she fell at home hitting her head. She was taken to the ER where numerous tests and x-rays were done. A brain bleed was found, including a previous brain bleed which tells me she had fallen once before. Mom spent her final months in long-term-care.

Thus, at my Mom's passing I never even thought for one moment to have an autopsy done. At 98 her heart finally gave out due to complications from late stage dementia. We were able to have the funeral within a couple of days with no delays. Why complicate a very difficult time.
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The reaction of people to your enquiries so far doesn't surprise me. It would be an unusual request: by and large, the difficulty professionals experience is that families are very unhappy for autopsies to be carried out, especially when it seems to be for a flimsy reason.

May I ask why it is that you're anxious for this to be done?
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