Medical Examiners

Nebraska Organ Recovery System recognizes the important role that medical examiners and coroners play in the organ and tissue donation process. NORS is committed to working with the medical examiners and coroners to ensure that patient wishes can be recognized and the gift of donation can be maximized. Medical Examiners and coroners may also play a role in the referral of potential candidates for organ or tissue donation in many cases.

Recognizing the importance of organ and tissue donation, the Scientific Working Group for Medicolegal Death Investigation (SWGMDI) and the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) have issued guidelines for collaboration with organ and tissue procurement organizations.

SWGMDI’s Standards for Interactions Between
Medical Examiner/Coroner Offices and Organ and
Tissue Procurement Organizations and Eye Banks

National Association of Medical Examiners Position
Paper: Medical Examiner Release of Organs and Tissues
for Transplantation


In all donation opportunities involving county coroner, NORS staff will work directly with the county coroner to assess donation and autopsy requirements. NORS will provide as requested by the county coroner, the following items:

  • All required blood samples.
  • Video tape of the organ/tissue recovery with a DVD being supplied within 2 business days.
  • Photographs of the donor’s body and all individual organs and tissues with a CD of the photo’s provided within 2 business days.
  • Full body X-Ray for organ donors only.
  • Full body CAT Scan for organ donors only.
  • Detailed cardiac pathology report for all hearts recovered for transplant. This report is performed by a forensic cardiovascular pathologist at the Jesse E. Edwards Registry of Cardiovascular Disease in St. Paul, MN.
  • Detailed written assessment documenting any abnormal findings. NORS recovery staff will contact the coroner immediately if they encounter any suspected evidence or findings during the recovery.
  • Record and provide chain of custody for the donor and all organs and tissues recovered.
  • Accommodate other reasonable requests
  • Pathologists, law enforcement investigators, and coroners are welcome to attend all organ and tissue recoveries.

In the event that a patient did not expire at a hospital, medical examiner or coroner staff are encouraged to contact Nebraska Organ Recovery System and provide patient information for evaluation of possible tissue donation. A brief screening will occur to gather demographic information and any additional medical information. If eligible, the family of the deceased will be contacted and will be explained their options regarding donation. It is useful to provide the coordinator all information known about the patient to best assess donation potential. Age and medical condition do play a factor into assessing eligibility, but these standards change often and many patients may be eligible. The recovery of donated tissue needs to occur within 12 hours of a patient death and prior to the embalming. Ideally, the referral will be made as early as possible to ensure that no logistical concerns stand in the way of the patient or family wishes.

To make a referral for organ, tissue, or eye donation, please call (800) 925-0215.

Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA)

The Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) provides guidelines for the medical examiner or coroner in dealing with a candidate for organ, tissue, or eye donation in section 23-1827 thru 23-1832 of the state statute.