It is almost unprecedented for an autopsy to be waived for an apparently unexplained death. But thanks to Misaskim, a family of a distinguished 63-year-old member of the community was at least comforted that an autopsy was prevented last week.
For Misaskim, the story began when medical officials declared the man to be brain dead, but had no explanation for why he had gone into cardiac arrest. The family contacted Misaskim officials, who immediately went to the hospital and spent the rest of Shabbos discussing and exploring all possibilities with the consultants and medical staff. Scans were sent to top neurosurgeons at Salford Royal and all the replies were the same: “There is nothing that can be done; the damage is too great.”
Misaskim consulted with Rabbanim and were told not to get involved in the decision making as to when to remove the ventilator. Misaskim stayed with the family until he was niftar, early Sunday morning.
The doctor at the ICU informed the Misaskim volunteers that, since the cause of the collapse was unknown, it would be referred to the coroner for investigation. Misaskim discussed the case at length with the coroner, and it was agreed that Misaskim would move the body from the hospital mortuary to the Jewish mortuary, pending an MRI scan later in the day. But unless the cause of the collapse could be explained, a full autopsy would be necessary.
Because the MRI was inconclusive, the coroner insisted that the body be moved to the Central Manchester Mortuary for a possible autopsy. After consulting specialists and others, the break came when a local physician was able to verify that he had treated the patient and a case was made that the patient collapsed due to an epileptic seizure, which lead to the cardiac arrest.
The coroner was called and agreed with the cause of death and signed the release. Misaskim then immediately coordinated the registration, all the coroner paperwork — including the out-of-England burial order — collection of the body from the mortuary and the taharah.
At 9 p.m., the levayah left from his house to Eretz Yisrael. A large crowd gathered in the cold weather to say their final goodbye to this well loved and well respected individual.
The Manchester case was a further example of the worldwide network of Misaskim who are on call whenever needed.