iGene, the advanced medical software company funding and building the world’s first network of digital autopsy facilities here in the UK, has warmly welcomed the decision taken by Sandwell Council, the location for iGene’s third UK facility, to pay for any digital autopsies undertaken on Sandwell residents.
The £1.2m facility, which is set to open towards the end of November at Sandwell Valley Crematorium, will offer non-invasive post mortems to bereaved families right across the West Midlands. For those outside Sandwell itself the cost will be £500 plus VAT.*
When the Coroner requires a post mortem to be undertaken, the partnership between Sandwell Council and iGene will enable families to request a Digital Autopsy as a first line intervention to establish the cause of death.
Hailing the decision as “a bold and admirable move by a forward-thinking local authority that clearly cares about bereaved local families” Professor Peter Gaines, consultant radiologist for iGene, confirmed that families using its existing sites in Yorkshire are already successfully avoiding a traditional post mortem using the new system.
“We have scanned a number of cases at our Sheffield and Bradford sites, some referred by the coroners and others by families coming to us directly for peace of mind. We have been able to quickly establish the cause of death and allow the body to be released to the family for burial untouched.”
“Digital Autopsy stands to revolutionise centuries–old post mortem practices, treating the dead with the same respect as the living and taking away one additional source of much anguish for their bereaved family. We look forward to building on our partnership with Sandwell Council to support local families across Sandwell and the wider West Midlands.”
Sandwell Council’s Deputy Leader Councillor Mahboob Hussain said the council will cover the cost if the person who died lived in the borough. He said: “It’s distressing enough to lose a loved one, but to then find out that a post mortem is necessary can be extremely upsetting.
“The digital autopsy is non-invasive and the results are available quickly, which is going to be of real comfort to grieving families.
“We’re proud to be the first council in the country to work with the private sector to offer this service free of charge to residents.
“I feel it’s only right that bereaved families in Sandwell have the option to choose this incredible new technology without worrying about the extra cost.”
iGene expects to start receiving bodies for scanning at the new Sandwell centre in the third week of November and is currently in discussions with a further 14 local authorities to open further centres across the country.