Organs from two men’s bodies were mistakenly placed into one of the corpses during a busy time in the overworked Snohomish County autopsy room, Medical Examiner Eric Kiesel has admitted.
“There is no excuse for it and I’m not even going to venture to make an excuse for it,” Kiesel said Thursday.
“This is one of those episodes, kind of like sticking your hand on a hot stove,” he said. “You only have to do it once to know you will never let it happen again.”
The snafu occurred Jan. 27 when four autopsies had to be conducted in the room, which has one dissection table.
Kiesel said one autopsy was done on a Sultan woman who died of a gunshot wound. He then completed an autopsy on a man and left the room so the other pathologist in the office, Daniel Selove, could perform a third autopsy.
Somehow the internal organs that had been removed from both corpses for examination and then placed in plastic bags were put back into one before the two bodies were sent to separate funeral homes.
The mix-up, noticed at the funeral home where the body with the extra organs was sent, was corrected immediately and relatives of both men were notified, Kiesel said.
Kiesel has complained for years about the 30-year-old county morgue. Officials hope to break ground for construction of a larger facility this fall.
“I think this is partially a symptom of that (overcrowding),” he said. “We had a tiny room. We had a major homicide workup to do.”
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