My family and I sat around the table in a cold conference room down the hall from where Dad had died about an hour before. It was three oclock in the morning and wed said our goodbyes to him. Mom had to sign some paperwork before we could leave.
Wed like to request an autopsy, she told the doctor who had come to sign my fathers death certificate. We had decided that an autopsy could help researchers, and might show if Dads dementia was caused by something my siblings and I could inherit.
Ill see if I can find the form, the doctor said and left the room.
Ten minutes later, he came back with a piece of paper and handed it to Mom.
Can we be specific about what we want them to look for? she asked him, pointing to the line that said Reason for Autopsy. He hesitated. I dont have much experience with this Im actually a psychiatry resident.
We decided to draft a few words ourselves based on some of Dads diagnoses. The words went something like:
What do you think about this? I asked the doctor. Ill just call the pathologist and check, he said, dialing zero on the conference room phone. Do you have the number for autopsy service? Thanks. He dialed again. This is Dr. X. Were preparing a request for an autopsy report, and the family has some specific requests. Id just like to read it to you to make sure oh,sorry. I wondered if hed woken the guy up. He read our wording, then hung up the phone and said that will be fine.
Maybe if Dads death hadnt been so sudden, we could have made these arrangements earlier. Either way, I hope we can somehow use the autopsy results to help others dealing with dementia.