Freedom of information: Body Parts
8 August 2013
Thank you for your e-mail dated 1 July in which you requested the following information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA):
1. The number of instances of which the Crown Office are aware in each of the last five years where a family or next of kin of a person whose body part or organ was retained was not informed of their options (to postpone a funeral until the part is released, to have the part cremated at a later date or to donate the part to medical science) before the funeral or cremation was held.
2. The parts concerned in each instance.
3. The amount of any compensation (by each individual claim) paid over the error.
4. The number of claims outstanding.
I am sorry that we were unable to respond within the statutory period set out in FOISA.
COPFS is committed to liaising sensitively and respectfully with nearest relatives in all deaths which are reported to a Procurator Fiscal, including those in which organ retention is necessary. Where retention of an organ is required for the purposes of an investigation into the circumstances of a death, in accordance with COPFS policy, the nearest relatives of the deceased will be advised. The requirement for retention will be reviewed as the investigation continues and the nearest relatives will continue to be advised as the investigation progresses.
In response to your first and second questions, I can advise that COPFS is aware of two cases across Scotland in the last five years in which the family or next of kin of a person whose body part or organ was retained was regrettably not informed of their option to postpone a funeral to a later date, to have the part cremated at a later date or to donate the part to medical science before the funeral or cremation was held. In each of these cases, the organ concerned was a brain.
In each of these cases, the Procurator Fiscal has advised the nearest relatives concerned and has apologised for any distress which was caused. In each case, a full review of the circumstances has been conducted to ensure that such a situation does not reoccur.
The answer to your third question is none.
The answer to your fourth question is none.