DENVER -- A western Colorado coroner said yesterday that two hospitals allowed vital organs to be removed from a man before they had proved he was brain dead, and he declared the death a homicide.
The cause of William Rardin's death was the "removal of his internal organs by an organ recovery team," Montrose County Coroner Mark Young said. He said he did not believe the case should be a criminal matter, but it "should lead to a clarification of what the accepted standard is."
Young said Montrose Memorial Hospital in Montrose and St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction did not follow "accepted medical standards" or meet state guidelines in determining that 31-year-old William Rardin was brain dead after he shot himself last month.
Rardin's heart, liver, pancreas, and two kidneys were transplanted into waiting patients.
St. Mary's officials and the organization that coordinates organ donation in Colorado and Wyoming insisted the surgeons followed the rules.
"We have never, ever had anything like this presented to us before," said Dan Prinster, a St. Mary's vice president. "We talked to the family the day of the donation. . . . This gentleman was on the donor registry. We've heard nothing from them regarding this."
Attempts to locate Rardin's family were unsuccessful, and someone who answered the phone at the Montrose hospital said no one was available to comment.