Brain-harvesting lawsuit against Washington State proceeds…

The Washington State Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the family of an organ donor may go ahead with its suit against King County and a Maryland research institute. The suit alleges the County harvested the entire brain of the decedent, Jesse Smith, and provided it to to the Stanley Medical Research Institute of Maryland, although his family had agreed only to provide a tissue sample. (Gene Johnson, “Wash. high court allows brain-harvesting lawsuit”, AP, Sept. 25).


  • Asked for a comment, the spokesman for the Stanley Medical Research Institute of Maryland made this statement: “Brains… brains…” and lurched slowly and determinedly toward the reporter.

  • The intent was to only give them a piece of his mind and in no way was it intended that his whole mind be devoted to the research?

    Er, sorry, but the possibilities are infinite. Would you call this suit a no-brainer? er, sorry again.

  • and this concludes tonights comedy hour =p

  • The value of the authorized tissue sample was calculated to be 2 cents.

  • The article says that the deceased was an organ donor and that he was 21, which is to say, a legal adult. I don’t see why the amount of tissue taken is any of his family’s business.

  • the agreement was for only a tissue sample not his entire brain hence the dispute

  • Though she was an organ donor, when my wife passed away the transplant team gave me very detailed and specific diagrams and information about what organs they wished to remove and how, and left every decision up to me. Almost as many signatures as when we bought our first home. The fact that someone has “organ donor” on their driver’s license is an indication of their general wishes at the time they got their license, but if there is family present at the scene, I suspect it is probably a lot more like it was in my wife’s case.

    I’m surprised the instant matter describes “wrongful interference with a dead body” and “conspiracy” instead of plain old breach of contract.

  • Paul,

    That is interesting. I must find out more about the legal status of “organ donor” designations. I have one, and my intention is that as much of my body as possible should be put to medical or scientific use. I won’t need it anymore, and I wouldn’t like to see it go to waste.

  • Bill Poser,

    That’s exactly how I feel and my husband, my mother, and my sister are well aware of it. That’s the important part. Letting your closest relatives (spouse, siblings, parents, children) know of your wishes.