Can an Organ Donor Have an Autopsy?

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Ask the experts

Can an autopsy be performed if an individual has donated his/her organs?

Doctor's response

Organ procurement for organ transplantation is a separate procedure that is performed by a surgical team in the operating room. Donating organs does not preclude the performance of an autopsy. In this case, the autopsy is performed in the autopsy suite after organs have been procured or removed by the surgical team. Of course, the organs which were removed for transplantation cannot be included in the autopsy examination. Sometimes the pathologist or medical examiner will attend the procedure or the operating surgeon will provide a report of findings for the doctor responsible for the autopsy.

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Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


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Last Editorial Review: 7/10/2017

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