Allen County lawsuit pits organ donation against criminal investigation


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – An unusual case in the Allen County courts right now involves organ donation within a homicide investigation. The central question: can a homicide victim be an organ donor and still have the autopsy necessary to prosecute his or her killer?

The Allen County prosecutor says no. But, the Indiana Donor Network says yes.


Around 120,000 people across the country are on transplant lists waiting for a life-saving organ. About 1,500 of those are Hoosiers, according to the Indiana Donor Network. Every day, 22 people (on average) die waiting for an organ transplant.

There’s a huge need in this country for organ donors. According to, while 95 percent of U.S. adults support organ donation, only about 54 percent are registered donors. On top of that, only three out of every thousand people die in a way that allows for organ donation.

In a publication by the National Association of Medical Examiners, it’s stated that as many as 70 percent of potential donors fall under the jurisdiction of a coroner or medical examiner. That means an autopsy, and further examination of the body, is needed to potentially prosecute a criminal case. The group also encourages organ donation whenever possible.

“The position of Name is that you will work to come to a conclusion so you can optimally have the decadent become an organ donors so that’s what we try to do,” Marion County Chief Deputy Coroner Alfarena Ballew, said. Continue reading

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