Gift of Life Michigan files lawsuit after organs of murdered boy - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Gift of Life Michigan files lawsuit after organs of murdered boy weren't donated

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SAGINAW COUNTY (WJRT) - (05/12/14) - Giving the gift of life versus seeking justice for a murdered 6-year-old boy - that's the battle playing out in a Saginaw County courtroom.

Six year old Elijah Dillard died March 1 from head injuries, which police say were a result of child abuse.

His parents are charged.

The lawsuit is not over what Elijah's parents are accused of doing, but what the medical examiner and county allegedly failed to do.

Gift of Life Michigan is suing Saginaw County and medical examiner Kanu Virani, claiming Elijah Dillard's organs should been donated, and the county and the doctor should have done more to see that happen.

"These laws have nothing to do with child abuse versus organ donation, it's about collaboration and communication," said Rich Pietroski, of Gift of Life Michigan.

Pietroski says that collaboration and communication in Saginaw County was lacking when 6-year-old Elijah was pronounced dead.

"There is a system that is currently not in place in Saginaw County that could do better for the citizens," Pietroski said.

Elijah's mother, Mio Campbell, gave Gift of Life authorization to take her son's organs, but medical examiner Kanu Virani told police he needed Elijah's whole body to complete an autopsy in the case where a murder charge against the father, Aki Dillard, was possible.

The autopsy was done, but Gift of Life says it was not done in a timely manner to permit Elijah's organs, tissues and eyes to remain viable for transplant.

The group says that's a violation of state law, and Pietroski says allowing for organ donation would not have harmed the criminal case against the parents.

"We believe the testing that we do for each organ that is going to be transplanted is actually going to provide the medical examiner with additional information that they wouldn't have with a static autopsy," he said.

Monday, Circuit Court Judge Darnell Jackson denied the county's motion to dismiss the case. The lawsuit isn't asking for any money damages.

"I just want a clean path forward so that we can work together and create practices that are consistent with the best practices across the state of Michigan and across the country," Pietroski said.

We talked with Amy Lusk, the county's attorney, and she declined to discuss pending litigation.

We were not able to reach Kanu Virani for comment.
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