State News

Widow: Husband's eyes removed without consent

Posted August 10, 2010
Updated August 19, 2010

— Henderson police are investigating a Warrenton woman's allegations that her late husband’s eyes were removed without permission.

Elven "Bob" Alston, 61, died Feb. 13 at Maria Parham Medical Center in Henderson, and his widow, Linda McMichael, said that he had strong religious beliefs against organ donation.

McMichael said that, based on the way his body looked after death, she believes his eyes might have been harvested for cornea donation.

Lt. Chris Ball of the Henderson Police Department declined to say whether police have determined if parts of Alston's eyes had been removed, saying only "the investigation is ongoing."

McMichael said she hopes the investigation will bring some sense of closure.

"I have an inner feeling, but 100 percent certainty I do not have at this point, which I seek," she said.

Elven "Bob" Alston Police probe stolen eyes allegation

David Ruggles, director of marketing for Maria Parham Medical Center, said in a statement Tuesday that Carolina Donor Services was notified of Alston's death, as mandated by state protocol. Neither the hospital nor Carolina Donor Services removed his eyes, however, he said.

"They were intact when his body was released to the funeral home," Ruggles said.

George Wright of Wright Funeral Home in Oxford declined to say whether Alston's eyes were intact, but they said they were cooperating with the police investigation.

Representatives with the North Carolina Eye Bank said they didn't harvest Alston's corneas.

McMichael has hired private investigator Sara Coffey to find out what happened to her husband’s eyes. Coffey, who is a Henderson City Council member, said she is seeking a court order to have Alston’s body exhumed for an autopsy.

"It's very hard. It's extremely hard," McMichael said. "I wake up at night, and I say, 'What have I done wrong to let you down, Bob?'"


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  • dorothyhawley2 Aug 12, 2010

    My sister was telling me about what happened to this lady husband.My husband passed away in june of this year.And going back looking at the close up pictures,he has a cut on his right eye in the corner.When he passed away,i was there to see him still lying in the bed. There were no cuts on him, at the funeral there were in the corner of his right eye and that eye looks like it had cotton stuffed in.He's not a doner and his funeral were conducted also by George Wright.Makes you think.Can you Mattrew Burns please contact me ani will be glad to show my pictures you can see the cut on my husband because he is very light skined.

  • TAKES_TO2_TANGO Aug 11, 2010

    deep..Would you totally disregard the wishes of a spouse or parent?

    yes I would if they were dead and it would bring sight to a living being...could have been a young person, anybody..

    soyousay someone has serious issues if they go agaist their dying family member's wish

  • monkeyboy Aug 11, 2010

    wildcat, posting the same thing 3 times in 16 minutes doesn't strengthen your argument. i do agree, though, that 'what's the point'? she's not gonna get his eyes back for him.

    my guess is that she's already talked to a lawyer and he's told her she can expect big money.

  • JAT Aug 11, 2010

    dang, I hate it when I got to post something, and it tells me the page is gone. Is this happening to others??

    wildcat - so she gets some money, alot of money? Is that realy going to make her rest easier at night? If anything, it's going to make it harder on her. Surely the hospital had to state something about the man's body being altered before it released the body to the funeral home.

    The best thing that could happen would for the funeral home to say the eyes were there, just sunken or whatever. It would make it easier on the woman and let her move on. I really think this is a case of an overactive imagination and a woman missing her husband something fierce. Grief can do that.

  • crustyhalo Aug 11, 2010

    I think Henderson Police Department has better things to do than look for a deceased person's eyes...I am sorry for the family but come on this is madness....just when you think you have heard it all !

  • wildcat Aug 11, 2010

    ANd honestlyl, at this point, what will proving it do?

    She did not give her permission and she can certainly sue them for their wrong doing. They will think the next time. She should be compensated for this if they are found in the wrong.

  • JAT Aug 11, 2010

    ANd honestlyl, at this point, what will proving it do? They can't put them back if they did take them. She'll just be left with more to worry and fret about.

  • JAT Aug 11, 2010

    who speaks like that "..I do not have at this point, but I seek".

    I think she may just be someone who wants to worry and fret and didn't like the way he looked in the casket. If I had thought that, I'd have looked at his eyes and wouldn't have let him be put in the ground. Maybe she had a dream that he was missing eyes, to be interpreted as "she's not able to see him" or something.

  • wildcat Aug 11, 2010

    If the funeral home is found to be guilty, the family should sue them for all they are worth. This was absolutely horrible.

  • wildcat Aug 11, 2010

    Exhume the body and there the answer will be found. If this was done, they should be charged highly. This was disrespect to his family.