Alabama Prisoner’s Missing Heart Remains Unaccounted For 50 Days: Know More Here

According to court documents filed on behalf of the deceased inmate’s family, who are attempting to recover the organ before it “deteriorates” completely, the Alabama Department of Corrections and employees at Ventress Correctional Facility have not revealed the whereabouts of the missing inmate’s heart for fifty days.

Alabama Prisoner's Missing Heart Remains Unaccounted For 50 Days: Know More Here

Upon learning of Brandon Clay Dotson’s death on November 21 at the Alabama prison, his mother Audrey South and sister Audrey Marie Dotson claimed to have spent five days attempting to retrieve his remains.

They say that upon his eventual return to his family, they discovered “bruising on the back of [his] neck and excessive swelling across his head.”

Court records indicate the family hired their own doctor to perform an autopsy because they were disturbed and unclear about the exact manner of his death. The family alleges in their lawsuit that the 43-year-old prisoner’s heart was missing from his chest cavity.

His family never got a death certificate, and they claimed in their complaint that they still don’t know how he passed away.

Dotson was incarcerated for 99 years after being found guilty of burglary and violating his parole in Barbour County’s Ventress Correctional Facility, of which he had served 19 of those years.

Dotson reportedly reported to prison officials in the final days of his life that he was being threatened with violence by another inmate. As a result, the lawsuit claims, prison officials transferred Dotson from “segregated housing” into the general population, where he was vulnerable to attacks and drug access by those looking to harm and take advantage of him at the “grossly understaffed and severely overcrowded” Ventress Correctional Facility.

The first complaint indicates that the actions of the prison personnel were “tantamount to a death sentence,” even though he was not given a life sentence.

In a phone conference on December 7, the defendants named in the case “glaringly were not able to answer” the whereabouts of Dotson’s heart, according to court documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama last week.

The lawsuit names several prison staff members as defendants, along with officials from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, the Ventress Correctional Facility warden, and the director of the Alabama Department of Corrections.

Heersink School of Medicine at the University of Alabama is included as a defendant as well, as the institution is a “possible intended recipient of Mr. Dotson’s heart.”

The lawsuit refers to a purported recent incident in which the Alabama Department of Health gave medical students “human organs and tissues” for “laboratory exercises.”

The University of Alabama at Birmingham has reviewed its records, “which show that UAB did not perform this autopsy and has not been involved in this matter,” according to a statement sent by media specialist Brianna Hoge to Fox News Digital via email in October. The school has since contacted the family’s attorney.

Nevertheless, more current court documents continue to list the school. Any contracts between the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences and the Alabama Department of Corrections, or any organization associated with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, including their pathology department, are among the sixteen papers Dotson’s family is requesting from the defendants.

According to court records, Dotson’s family was successful in their request for an expedited discovery period, which was imposed on all parties on December 29.

“Plaintiffs contend that there are few matters that present more of an ‘impelling urgency’ or ‘hazard of loss’ requiring swift action than in the case of a missing organ. Organs and tissues that are not adequately preserved deteriorate” reads a Jan. 3 court filing.

“If Brandon Dotson’s heart has not been illegally destroyed, it is of critical importance to confirm that it is being stored properly. Furthermore, the family has spent nearly fifty agonizing days wondering where the heart of their loved one currently is,” the suit reads. “Courts in nearly all districts have recognized the heightened sensitivity of proper handling of human remains. This case could not be a clearer example of mishandling the remains of a deceased: the evidence available to the Plaintiffs indicates that Defendants removed, potentially misplaced and improperly destroyed a human heart, and now are attempting to hide the details of such activity from the family.”

The Dotson family is currently requesting several documents, such as one that outlines the chain of command for their relative’s body from his cell at Ventress to Abanks Medical Center, where they first saw his corpse; the document that the warden of the prison authorized his autopsy; Dotson’s death certificate; Dotson’s autopsy report, regardless of whether it was completed; video footage from Dotson’s cell at Ventress; any documentation of life-saving procedures that were executed in the wake of his death; and documentation of any inquiry that was conducted into his death.

Lauren Faraino, the family’s attorney, also requested the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences’ policies regarding the removal and retention of human organs after autopsy. The agency provided a form to family members of prospective autopsy subjects who were not incarcerated, as well as one that was used for autopsies on incarcerated individuals.

The family also requested a list, which the defendants have allegedly admitted exists, of all the organs that have been extracted or kept from prisoners who have passed away inside the jail system in Alabama since 2013.

“This document is critical to fulfil the third measure sought in the motion for TRO: freezing the practice of improperly and potentially illegally retaining organs from autopsies without providing notice or seeking consent from the family members of the deceased,” the document reads.

UAB students had concerns in September 2018, according to the family’s attorney, including a “disproportionate amount of specimens obtained from individuals incarcerated at their time of death.” We also want any minutes from this meeting.

Fearing to undermine the existing legal proceedings, Dotson’s family members refrained from commenting at the time of publication, and Faraino was not available for comment.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s legal representative opted not to comment on the matter.

Leave a Comment