B.C. Woman's Corpse Not Donated Because Of Mix-Up

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MEDICAL STUDENTS
Anne Johnstone's plans to donate her body to medical research was ditched after no one at Mission Memorial Hospital notified UBC's body donation program.(Alamy) | Alamy

A Mission, B.C., woman's dying wish to donate her body to medical research was thwarted after her corpse was left in a morgue for two weeks because nobody notified UBC.

Barb Davis says her mother, Anne Johnstone, wanted her remains given to the university's body donation program, just like her late husband.

When Johnstone died in late October at Mission Memorial Hospital Davis says they thought all the paperwork was done.

"My husband also asked, 'Do we need to call?' And they said everything was taken care of."

But 12 days later, Davis couldn't get a death certificate and found out her mother's remains never went to UBC. She was still in the morgue at Mission Hospital.

"It sickens me. I can't sleep," said Davis. "I sit and picture my mom lying down in a basement in the hospital with nobody even caring or knowing that she's there."

Family demands apology

Now the family wants an apology, but it remains unclear who is responsible for the oversight.

The consent form says it's up to either family or the doctor to call UBC.

Johnstone's doctor says he was under the impression the family would do it.

Fraser Health spokesperson Roy Thorpe-Dorward said they are sorry Johnstone's final wishes weren't fulfilled, but they were not aware of Johnstone's desire to have her body donated to UBC.

"We were not aware of their plans or authorized to act on their behalf," he said.

Staff at UBC's donation program said they were not contacted until Tuesday, and it was too late for them to accept the body because they can only take corpses within 48 hours of death.

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