The parents of Christopher Albrecht say they had the right to bury their son with his brain intact instead of it being permanently removed at his autopsy. But lawyers representing county coroners told the Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday that medical examiners would be reticent to do thorough autopsies if justices granted property rights to families. At issue is whether the brain, heart and other body parts removed during an autopsy should be returned to the relatives of the deceased instead of being destroyed as medical waste, reports the Associated Press.
Albrecht died in December 2001 when he suddenly plunged his vehicle into a pond. The coroner determined that an epileptic seizure prompted his accident. According to the autopsy, a portion of his brain had been removed during his life as part of a surgical procedure related to his epilepsy. His parents’ lawsuit against coroners and commissioners in 87 of Ohio’s 88 counties raises ethical, moral and religious questions about the treatment of bodies after death. The case has drawn international attention for its ramifications to coroners, crime investigators, emergency medical technicians, funeral directors and followers of religions that espouse the importance of burying the whole body.