UAB, sued for allegedly stealing Alabama convicts’ organs, terminates contract to conduct state prison autopsies

UAB Hospital announced on Monday that it will no longer perform autopsies on deceased state inmates. The hospital’s pathology department has terminated its contract with the Alabama Department of Corrections.

UAB has made this decision following a lawsuit filed last month by the families of five deceased state prison inmates. These families accused the hospital of unlawfully taking organs from the inmates post-autopsy.

The UAB Department of Pathology has announced that they have terminated their contract with the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) and will no longer perform autopsies for incarcerated individuals. This decision comes after the department had previously been in compliance with laws governing autopsies to determine the cause of death for inmates, following the appropriate clinical standard. The protocols regarding autopsies conducted for incarcerated persons were also reviewed and endorsed by a panel of medical ethicists. UAB, known for its highly ranked pathology program and accredited by the College of American Pathologists, is staffed by certified physicians who are credentialed by the American Board of Pathology.

The hospital chose not to provide any further comments apart from its official statement.

According to attorney Lauren Faraino, who is representing multiple families involved in lawsuits against the hospital, the termination of the contract does not have any impact on the ongoing litigation.

“The termination of the UAB/ADOC contract will not impact the ongoing lawsuits. The harm inflicted upon those families has already taken place,” she emphasized. “It is evident that the law mandated medical examiners to obtain appropriate consent prior to organ removal during autopsies, which UAB failed to do.”

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According to testimony from several prison officials in a federal court hearing earlier this year, it was revealed that all individuals who pass away while in custody undergo an autopsy. These autopsies are carried out by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences at both the state and UAB levels.

According to the lawsuits, UAB did not receive permission from any of the five families to retain the organs.

The Alabama Department of Corrections, the University of Alabama system (which includes the University of Alabama at Birmingham and its medical school), and several individuals associated with these institutions are facing lawsuits from the families of Arthur Olen Stapler, Jim William Kennedy, Anthony Perez Brackins, Kelvin Lamar Moore, and Charles Singleton.

Families of the deceased have expressed their frustration in trying to reach out to UAB’s Pathology Department after discovering that the organs were missing. However, they have received varying explanations regarding the retention of the organs.

According to the lawsuit, the family of Kelvin Moore, who passed away last summer, stated that they received a “sealed red bag with a container inside that (UAB) claimed contained Kelvin’s organs.” They were informed by a supervisor in the pathology department that it was UAB’s policy to not return organs to families after an autopsy.

The family of Arthur Olen Stapler hired a private pathologist to retrieve his organs from UAB, but they were not able to obtain all of them.

The Kennedy family’s lawsuit alleges that a UAB representative disclosed that the Department of Pathology at UAB frequently takes organs. Additionally, a member of the pathology department informed them that it is a common practice for teaching institutions to retain organs from autopsies.

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Several lawsuits were filed in response to a previous lawsuit where the family of a former prisoner, Brandon Clay Dotson, claimed that he was returned without his heart. The whereabouts of the heart remain unknown.

In a disappointing turn of events, the Doston family’s lawsuit was recently dismissed, leaving them with no answers regarding the whereabouts of the missing heart.

The case was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala for the Northern District of Alabama. This decision came after the family and the state reached an agreement and filed a joint stipulation of dismissal.

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