HOUSTON (KPRC/CNN) – A widow is battling a hospital to have her late husband's remains returned 10 years after his death.
She says what the hospital sent her might not even be human remains.
"There's a big hole in my life," said widow Linda Carswell.
It has been a painful battle for Carswell, in the courtroom and at home, living without her husband, Jerry.
"He should have not died," Carswell said. "He was a healthy man."
Ten years ago, Jerry Carswell was admitted to Christus St. Catherine's Hospital in Katy, TX for kidney stones. Carswell said her husband died unexpectantly there, and since then she's feared it was because of a hospital error. She told the hospital to arrange for a full autopsy.
"I said, ‘I want to get an independent study done,'" Carswell said.
But she said the autopsy was not done at an independent facility and the cause of death was still never determined. She sued and the jury found the hospital guilty of fraud, but the battle wasn't over.
Carswell says through the court fight, the hospital kept a part of her husband's remains – his heart. She said when she finally got the organ back and sent it to a crime lab, the results were unimaginable.
"It was just astounding to me," Carswell said.
The lab claims the organ showed no signs of DNA because it was not preserved properly, or they say it's a real possibility that it may not even be human.
"Although I don't know what happened, what this latest petition is about is that we want to get some answers," Carswell's attorney Neil McCabe said. "I wouldn't put anything past these [hospital] people."
One of the hospitals involved, St. Joseph's Hospital, issued a statement saying, "Linda Carswell was notified on Aug. 23, 2013 that her husband's tissue samples would be released to her, and shortly thereafter a process was agreed upon to release those tissue samples to the family."
The statement continues, saying, "On Nov. 19, 2013, Mr. Carswell's tissue samples were released to representatives from a funeral home of Mrs. Carswell's choosing, and all appropriate legal documentation was signed by both parties, indicating that proper procedures were observed in the releasing of these specimens and to release St. Joseph's Medical Center from any further claims, demands or causes of action. Since that time, we have no way of knowing what may have happened to the specimens in question, or what was provided to NMS Laboratory."
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