A New York family is stunned and outraged after the city medical examiner sent the body and organs of their 82-year-old relative to the funeral home in separate shipments.
Because of the mix-up, the body of Rhoda Callwood was buried last week in Westchester County with her body lying in the casket and her organs next to her in plastic buckets, according to Funeral director William Curran, of John F.X. McKeon Funeral Home in the Bronx.
“It’s bizarre," Curran, who has been in the funeral home business for 20 years, fold FoxNews.com. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“It’s bizarre. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
- William Curran, funeral director
According to Curran, Callwood’s family requested two autopsies after her death, at New York Presbyterian Hospital – one by the hospital and one by the city medical examiner. But when the hospital forwarded the body to the city coroner, it was missing the organs, Curran said. The M.E.’s investigators went to the hospital to get them the next day, according to Curran.
After performing its own autopsy, the Medical Examiner’s office sent the remains to the funeral home in separate shipments. Officials from the Medical Examiner's office didn't want to open up Callwood's body again given that Curran would soon be preparing the body for burial, according to WABC-TV, which first reported the story.
"I am so confused with everything going on, I don't have time to mourn, really," Glenda Callwood, Rhoda Callwood’s daughter, told the station.
The family has sought to have the organs tested to ensure they are Callwood’s, and has also hired an attorney.
"We sympathize with the family in the loss of their loved one,” the hospital told the station. “The Medical Examiner's office says it didn't intend to add to the family's grief, but that their normal protocol is to put organs back in bodies."
Curran, who said he did his best to comfort family members when their grief was compounded by the strange sequence of events, was still at a loss for answers.
“If that is the Medical Examiner’s protocol, then why didn’t they follow it?” he asked.