Profession

Organ removal was not homicide

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Nov. 1, 2004

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A Colorado coroner protocol review committee has ruled that Montrose County Coroner Mark Young was incorrect and his actions were "reckless," "inappropriate" and "irresponsible" when he ruled last month that a 31-year-old man's death was a homicide resulting from his organs being removed and not the result of his self-inflicted gunshot to the head.

The committee, which included two physicians who also serve as coroners, ruled that standard tests were performed to test for the absence of brain and respiratory function, the "irrefutable cause of death" was the gunshot wound, and the organ recovery team acted appropriately.

The panel's report noted that Young is not a medical doctor, had just started an Internet course on brain death in late September and had only reviewed 10 of more than 220 pages of records related to the case.

"These actions have served to undermine the public trust in the organ donation system, as well as the public trust in the health care, coroner and criminal justice systems," the report stated. "Not only was Mr. Young incorrect in his conclusion regarding the cause of death, his actions seriously undermine the best interests of the citizens of our state."

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/11/01/prbf1101.htm.

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