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Inmates who died in prison had organs 'missing'
Featured Image Credit: US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama / Darrin Klimek/Getty

Inmates who died in prison had organs 'missing'

A lawsuit has been filed after a man who died while in prison had his body returned to his family without his heart.

The families of two deceased prisoners have claimed their bodies were returned to them with organs missing, according to a lawsuit.

Brandon Clay Dotson, aged 43, died in an Alabama prison last year in November, while Charles Edward Singleton, 74, died in prison in 2021 and was housed at the Hamilton Aged and Infirmed Centre in Hamilton.

Following their deaths, both families allege that their bodies had organs missing and were in a state of decomposing.

In the case of Dotson, it was alleged that his body was already 'severely decomposed' and his heart was missing, CNN reported.

A pathologist was then hired to do another autopsy, where he discovered that his heart was missing - therefore halting the examination.

And according to affidavit signed by Singleton's daughter, Charlene Drake, when his body was transported to a funeral home, the funeral director told his daughter that ‘it would be difficult to prepare his body for viewing, as his body was already in a noticeable state of decomposition,’ and organs, including his brain, were missing.

The Dotson family has since filed the federal lawsuit against the Alabama Department of Corrections and UAB Medical Center among other parties - with the affidavit by Drake sent in support, according to CNN.

Dotson's family allege that his body was already decomposing, and his heart was missing.

In the lawsuit, Dotson's family wrote that his missing heart was the result of 'appalling misconduct [that] is nothing short of grave robbery and mutilation.'

“The Alabama Department of Corrections – or an agent responsible for conducting the autopsy or transporting the body to his family – had, inexplicably and without the required permission from Mr. Dotson’s next of kin, removed and retained Mr. Dotson’s heart,” the lawsuit claimed.

The family are asking for Dotson's missing organs to be returned immediately.

In a statement to UNILAD, The Alabama Department of Corrections said it did not comment on pending litigations and does not authorize or perform autopsies.

They continued to say: “Once an inmate dies, the body is transported to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences or (the University of Alabama at Birmingham) for autopsy, depending on several factors, including but not limited to region and whether the death is unlawful, suspicious, or unnatural.”

The ADOC also said that they are currently awaiting the court's decision following the evidentiary hearing in the Dotson's case last week.

The Dotson family has filed the federal lawsuit against multiple bodies.
Getty Stock Image

According to The Independent, the medical school in the University of Alabama was believed to be a possible 'intended recipient' of Dotson's heart.

A spokesperson for the University of Alabama has vehemently denied the claim, adding that while they do perform autopsies on prisoners, they did not perform Dotson's.

Alicia Rohan, University of Alabama at Birmingham’s director of external public relations, also told CNN that they do not comment on pending litigation.

Adding: "We only conduct autopsies with consent or authorization and follow standard procedures equitably for anyone consented to or authorized for an autopsy.

"In an autopsy, organs and tissues are removed to best determine the cause of death. Autopsy consent includes consent for final disposition of the organs and tissues; unless specifically requested, organs are not returned to the body.”

And in a statement to UNILAD, Rohan said: "We want to reiterate that UAB did not perform Mr. Dotson’s autopsy and has not been involved with this matter. We have made the plaintiff’s attorney aware."

UNILAD has contacted The Alabama Department for Forensic Science for further comment.

Topics: News, US News