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Medical Examiners &
Law Enforcement

Medical Examiners and Law Enforcement play a special role in eye donation.  By ensuring access to individuals whose deaths occurred outside of hospital settings or are subject to medicolegal procedures, the support of Medical Examiners and law enforcement enables eye or cornea donation from and donors suffering unattended or traumatic deaths.

Lions Medical Eye Bank and Research Center of Eastern Virginia is proud to maintain an exceptional working relationship with Medical Examiners and Law Enforcement personnel who serve the Hampton Roads. With their support and assistance, our eye bank is able to bring comfort to more families who find solace in giving the gift of sight through donation of their loved ones’ tissue and, in turn, we assist more men, women, and children in need of sight restoration. Special recognition is due to the Investigators and

A white body bag lied in a sterile environment on a clean table. It is fully zipped closed with a black zipper

Medical Examiners at the Tidewater Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, located in Norfolk, Virginia. Their tireless efforts routinely go beyond the call of duty in support of citizens in their service area. On behalf of the whole community, we thank you dearly.

A group of young people stand together, facing the sun, looking hopefully into the horizon and the future

The Lions Medical Eye Bank and Research Center of Eastern Virginia has a consistent rate of younger donors, nearly twice the national average, as a result of a strong working relationship with the Tidewater Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

The law enforcement agencies and Medical Examiners are governed by Commonwealth of Virginia Code, which explains that when a death occurs unassociated with a hospital and the body is in the custody of law enforcement, that a referral of the information about the deceased is to be made to the Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) serving that region. In the Tidewater region, that OPO is LifeNet Health.

Nearly half of all deaths in the Tidewater region occur each year outside of Hampton Roads area hospitals. Prior to recently increased education, none of these deaths were being referred. Since the creation of the program at LifeNet Health with a goal of educating public safety officers of their role under the law, there has been an increase in the number of referrals reported by law enforcement and medical examiners. This increase in referrals has resulted in greater service to the citizens of the Tidewater region, allowing more grieving families the option of donation to assuage the pain of their losses and more ailing blind individuals the ability to see again through the anatomical gift of strangers.

Medicolegal cases require special procedures.  When identified as a possible Medical Examiner case, Donor Coordinators at Lions Medical Eye Bank and Research Center of Eastern Virginia and LifeNet Health must seek approval to proceed prior to dispatching a technician to recover tissue from donors authorized by First Person Consent or by the next-of-kin.  The eye bank collects vitreous fluid and blood from medicolegal donors to supplement Medical Examiner testing requirements.  The eye bank follows all requirements set by the Tidewater Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to ensure no damage to their investigation.

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