Army Pathology Institute clarifies handling of dead cadet’s internal organs

Director of the Army Institute of Pathology at Phramongkutklao hospital, Maj-Gen Tara Poonpracha today (Nov 23) talked with Mr Pichet and Ms Supicha Tanyakan, father and elder sister of deceased cadet, Pakapong, and answered the questions they raised about why the hospital kept the inner organs of their son for examination without notifying the family in advance.

The followings are excerpts of the conservation between the two parties:

Maj-Gen Tara:  I would like to express my condolence to the family and would like to apologize that I was not here to take care of the case as I was in the upcountry when the incident took place.  I would like to assure that our organization adhere to justice and righteousness.

From our examination of his heart, we found out that there were nucleus changes – that is it was larger than normal – but the changes not up to the level of microplasma.  In conclusion, there were symptoms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, but we don’t know the cause yet because the family has wanted the organs back for examination.  If we are allowed to continue with our examination, we will invite experts to join the examination.

Mr Pichet:  I want to ask just a bit.  Why didn’t the hospital notify us that they wanted to keep the internal organs for examination?  What if we had cremated the body?

Maj-Gen Tara:  We acted with caution.  Because this case, we knew that he died from a problem with his heart.  One who died instantly was often related to the heart, brain or lung.  I would like to clarify why we didn’t ask for permission.  If a patient died in the hospital, we could not keep the deceased’s internal organs.  But for this case, the death was unnatural – that is we didn’t know the cause of his death and the law allows doctors to keep his internal organs for examination.

Pakapong’s father, Pichet, wants to know why the family was not informed about the removal of his dead son’s internal organs.

Ms Supicha:  But the law does not say that the hospital can keep the organs without notifying the family.

Maj-Gen Tara:  That is right.  This should serve as a lesson for us.  In the past, we did not attach much attention to the feelings of the family.  This should serve as a lesson for us.

Ms Supicha:  The hospital said that they were not finished yet with the examination and if we had not asked for the return of the organs and the hospital would carry on with the examination.  Then why there was a complete autopsy report?

Supicha, elder sister of Pakapong, inquires Maj-Gen Tara about the autopsy.

Maj-Gen Tara:  We knew that he died of sudden heart failure.  But if we were allowed to continue with the examination, we would be able to provide a specific medical judgement.

After receiving Pakapong’s internal organs from Phramongkutklao hospital, the family would hand over them to the Justice Ministry’s Central Institute of Forensic Science which has been asked by Ongkharak police to conduct the second autopsy of Pakapong.