REPORT: Military Allegedly Retains Hundreds Of Organs Following Autopsies

A recent Pentagon report published March 18 has reportedly exposed ethical issues within the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System.

The Pentagon’s Inspector General found that the system, responsible for conducting autopsies on military personnel and others who die under federal jurisdiction, has been keeping organs such as brains and hearts without always informing families, sometimes even against their explicit wishes, according to a report.

The Inspector General’s investigation looked into more than 200 autopsies from 2006 to 2022. It found that the military didn’t record what the families of the deceased wanted in more than half of the cases. Also, in 41% of the cases where the military did record the families’ wishes, they didn’t follow those wishes, the report stated.

“AFMES officials stated that when organs were retained during an autopsy, the medical examiner was required to store the organs in formalin for at least 2 weeks before they could examine or ship the organs. Organs retained at MTFs are required to be shipped to AFMES at Dover AFB for expert examination. AFMES policy states that once the examination is complete, the remaining parts of the organ are required to be returned to the formalin and secured in the histology lab,” the report stated. (RELATED: Defense Official Says European Ammo Production Is Leaving America In The Dust. That’s Nonsense, Experts Say)

“Once the medical examiner finalizes the autopsy report, AFMES officials should, in most cases, release the organs to the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations (AFMAO) for final disposition. AFMAO officials are then expected to disposition the organs according to next of kin instructions, such as transfer to a funeral home or burial, cremation, or retirement at sea.”

The military’s medical examiner retained hundreds of organs removed during autopsies — including people’s brains and hearts — frequently without notifying family members or, in some instances, against their wishes, according to a watchdog report.

— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 23, 2024

A Department of Defense official said that 553 organs from 433 people were stored at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, according to NBC News. The military isn’t contacting families themselves but is asking people who think their loved one’s remains are being held to email them to get them back.

This practice has been ongoing for years due to inconsistent procedures for managing and documenting the organs removed during autopsies, the Inspector General found.

Investigations revealed failures in recording relatives’ preferences for the handling of their loved one’s remains, with many wishes not followed through. For instance, a case from 2010 found that despite a request for organs to be cremated and sent to a specific location, the organs were never cremated and remained stored, the report stated. The Department of Defense has promised reforms, including updates to their tracking system to prevent such ethical breaches in the future, according to NBC News.

The Daily Caller has reached out to the Department of Defense for comments but has yet to receive a response.