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House passes bill creating Felony charge for organ retention

Multiple lawsuits have alleged that UAB Medical Center retained organs from individuals who died inside Alabama prisons without obtaining the consent of family members.

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A bill is moving forward in the Alabama Legislature to make it a Class C felony for medical examiners to retain the organs of an individual without notifying the person’s next of kin.

HB200 by Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, comes on the heels of a reports that multiple incarcerated individuals who died within Alabama’s prison system being returned to their families with organs missing.

Multiple lawsuits have been filed this year by families of such individuals.

“There’s been some issues that have been coming up where there may be just a flat-out illegal agreement between two entities, that one pretends to have the authority to stand in as next of kin and give that authority to harvest on organ after an autopsy,” England said.

Those two entities are the Alabama Department of Corrections and UAB Medical Center, with lawsuits alleging UAB took organs from deceased loved ones without consent in at least five different cases.

England clarified that the organs of organ donors within the prison system will still be able to be removed by medical examiners based on the individual’s prior self-consent to having their organs removed.

The bill passed 89-1 with little debate and now moves to the Senate with five days remaining on the legislative calendar.

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Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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