Rapid Autopsy


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The Legacy Gift Rapid Autopsy program arranges and performs autopsies on an urgent basis to collect tumor and other tissues for researchers in many different areas. Specimens collected at autopsy have been used to grow living cell lines which can be used to evaluate for genetic mutations and test new chemotherapies. Samples can also undergo genetic sequencing and RNA expression analysis, as well as immunohistochemical and proteomic studies.


(video animation created by Kari Opert)

Why Rapid Autopsy?

Rapid autopsies provide completely unique research opportunities. Tumor samples can be taken for

  • cancers have spread aggressively locally
  • developed resistance to treatment, and/or
  • spread throughout the body

Multiple body sites can be sampled in large quantities and new sites of tumor spread can be found that were not detected during life and these areas can also be sampled for research.

Patients or family members sign the Study Consent for participation in the Rapid Autopsy program. At the time that the patient passes away, the next-of-kin will sign an Autopsy Consent. Arrangements can be made to transport patients who pass away in hospice care or at home to the hospital by a funeral service at no cost to the family. Researchers also pay the cost of performance of the autopsy itself.