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The Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS) has said it is normal procedure to collect the organs from a body without telling the deceased’s family. The revelation follows concerns from the family of a dead military student about the removal of his internal body parts.
CIFS deputy director Dr Trairit Temahiwong told a press conference on Wednesday that it was lawful for a forensic doctor and investigation team to collect organs and tissues from a body without notifying the relatives. This was to allow for a thorough examination on the organs.
Moreover, this would be helpful in this particular case, as it will help the medical team to accurately identify the cause of death.
First-year Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School student Phakhapong “Moei” Tanyakan died at the school on October 17 and an initial report identified his cause of death as acute heart failure.
The body was examined for a second time and many of the internal organs were missing. This caused Phakhapong’s family great concern.
Trairit said that, according to the law, in the case of suspicious death, the investigation team can collect the organs from a body without asking relatives’ permission. This was necessary because in some cases the relatives themselves might be behind the death and might attempt to interfere with the investigation.
“It makes sense for the forensic team at Phramongkutklao Hospital to remove the brain, heart and some other organs for further examination, because this is complex case, as the dead student was young and healthy,” he said.
He said they were working on the assumption that the Phramongkutklao Hospital forensic team “collected these organs for more intensive examination to clearly identify Phakhapong’s cause of death”.
Dr Panchai Wohandee, head of CIFS Forensic Work Development Division, also explained that, to clearly determine the cause of death in a complex case such as this, the forensic team has to examine the organs, especially the brain and heart, at a molecular level. This is because traces of fatal symptoms often showed in these organs.
Panchai also noted that the cause of death stated in a death certificate often reflected the results of a preliminary autopsy. This can be updated if a later intensive autopsy result revealed otherwise.
Meanwhile, CIFS director Som Promros revealed that the institute had made contact with the Phramongkutklao Hospital forensic team, and the hospital said it would transfer the collected organs to CIFS on Thursday for examination.
Som stated that the autopsy result would be finished by November 30, as the institute could not conclude the cause of death without inspection of these important organs.
He also said that the trainee’s broken rib might be explained by the application of intensive CPR, and did not necessarily mean that Phakhapong was beaten to death.
“The Justice Minister directly ordered CIFS to find the truth behind the cadet student death and provide justice for his family and we pledge to do so,” he stressed.