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DNA Test after Death

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 15 Jul 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Dna Cremains Ashes Heat Process

Q.My sister was involved in a car crash, and she lost her unborn child. The autopsy report revealed she was 18 weeks and 1 day pregnant. A wrongful death suit has been filed for the loss of her child, however, there is a question of who the father is. My sister chose to have her stillbirth cremated, and I was wondering if there was a way DNA testing could be done since the baby was cremated. If so what are the options?

(Mrs JB, 10 September 2008)

A.

I want to offer sincere condolences to your sister and your family. I wish I could offer you a more hopeful answer but unfortunately, the high heat of the cremation process destroys DNA. This means it is extremely unlikely that you would be able to make an identification of the father through DNA testing of the ashes. When a cremation is properly performed, the heat is extreme to the extent that no living material exposed to the heat can survive it.

Interestingly enough, one part of the body that is weakened but still intact to some degree following cremation is a person's teeth. Virtually all properly performed cremations will ultimately pulverize the teeth though, so there is little chance of intact DNA. However, on the rare chance there was a tooth, it could be possible to use this for paternity identification. Given the age of the foetus at death, there would have been teeth already forming, despite the fact they had not yet emerged.

Generally, DNA testing is quite reliable on a deceased person prior to cremation but it is once the DNA is exposed to the heat of cremation, it does not survive intact. I am not sure if this is any consolation, but I can say that your sister is not alone in her quest to determine DNA from ashes. In fact, the question is a common one heard at funeral agencies but at this point in time, the answer is not favourable to testing.

Still, while there is not yet any reliable, accurate form of testing for DNA in cremated remains, it is not to say that this kind of test won't become available in the future. I can appreciate that your sister may need to put closure on the paternity aspect of her dead child, but the only advice I can provide is to try to find a way to emotionally move beyond the issue, through family and friendship support or through counselling. Your sister can still stay aware of the newest developments in forensic science and DNA testing – perhaps one day testing will be able to include ashes.

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Hi, My uncle died over 20 years ago. I found out 15 years ago that my best friends brother in law was raising a child, that was supposedly my deceased uncles son. I found out this boy could be my uncles son. The story is no1 knew my uncle got this woman pregnant except the day of my uncle’s funeral. For so many years we had and still have no answers. My question is, this boy who is supposedly my cousin and I would like to truly find out. I was told if I have another living uncle, I could take his DNA and this kids dna and find out the truth. Can we do this with a home kit, or do we have to go to a specific place.
Sin - 15-Jul-18 @ 9:56 PM
After his death in 1965, my friend discovered that the father who loved and raised her had been living under an alias. No trace of him is to be found in any records prior to 1930, but he was born at some point during the 1890s. Through DNA matching, she has found that she has three strongly matching 2nd-4th cousins, each descended from three siblings. I've traced their family tree backwards, laterally and forwards in time, to try to find any 'missing' men of the right age to be her father. The only candidate is another of the siblings who weny missing, believed killed during WW1. My friend has just foundher father's old pipe, and wondered whether it is possible to have DNA extracted and tested to see if any of the DNA matching can be made more positive. Can this be done, and, if so, by whom?
Squibbs - 10-Jul-18 @ 4:09 PM
I need to know if the ashes I have are my husband, because the ashes I that was given to me smell something awful, so I would like to talk to someone about this matter... my phone number is (720-410-3093) if someone can call me I can give you more information... thank you very much.
duck - 8-Jul-18 @ 11:28 AM
Minisol - Your Question:
Hi I know this is probably a weird request but I was wondering if anyone could tell me with this matter I was pregnant and had an abortion back in March due to having 5 children already I knew that I already had enough children now the father who I'm 100% sure has doubts about the pertanityi did take home the pregnancy tissue etc which I still have is there any way of getting a dna test done on this pregnancy tissue thank you

Our Response:
The easiest way to find out would be to contact a DNA testing facility and ask them whether it can be used. We're sorry but we don't know the answer to this.
ExploreDNA - 2-Jul-18 @ 2:16 PM
Hi I know this is probably a weird request but I was wondering if anyone could tell me with this matter I was pregnant and had an abortion back in March due to having 5 children already I knew that I already had enough children now the father who I'm 100% sure has doubts about the pertanityi did take home the pregnancy tissue etc which I still have is there any way of getting a dna test done on this pregnancy tissue thank you
Minisol - 29-Jun-18 @ 11:53 AM
What test kit can be provided to a mortuary 24 hours after death? Family and estate executor want this done. Mortuary does not know. They said "contact Walgreens for a test kit"
geofan - 26-Jun-18 @ 6:49 PM
Sanju- Your Question:
I want some question about DNA test when a Lady diez in accidente but fathers denied about his paternity

Our Response:
Do you mean the father of the lady? Or did the lady have a child?
ExploreDNA - 25-Jun-18 @ 10:20 AM
My brother recently passed away very suddenly.Before the cremation I asked the funeral home to take swabs using cotton swabs and I placed the swabs in a pill jar. It was the only thing I could think of at the time. The swabs are currently in the fridge.Can I send them for DNA testing? My hope is they will be reliable in their current state. p.s. It was the first time the funeral home has been asked to do this.
Tink - 24-Jun-18 @ 4:45 PM
I want some question about DNA test when a Lady diez in accidente but fathers denied about his paternity
Sanju - 22-Jun-18 @ 4:05 AM
I need help I am 38 years old and don't know who my father is but I have a person in mind but he passed away in 09 my mom never told me who he was but when I asked her about him she just said she didn't want to talk about it so please if you could help me I really appreciate
Missy - 8-Jun-18 @ 6:16 PM
Would you please help me in my family get closure Destiny went over to Hawaii last year to celebrate her 21st birthday and they said that the sharks ate up but they pronounce her dead on the scene even though they didn't have a body finally they found what they said served to assure and it was a lower part from the hip to the knees and they said again that the shark had tore her to pieces and that was all to her then they told me that they could not do a DNA because the DNA lab ran out of money the end of last year I went back to Hawaii my second trip and was told that nothing had been done then finally they called me and said that it was a match that it was her I don't believe them in my heart could you please help me and my family find a trip about Destiny in Hawaii vacation
Eva - 30-May-18 @ 12:18 AM
My brother has a son my brother dead could i be the DNA for my brother
N/a - 26-May-18 @ 9:27 PM
My mother passed before I could get her DNA tested.I have some swabs and toothbrushes she used.Can I get her DNA tested from this?
dTexn - 25-May-18 @ 7:39 PM
Lee - Your Question:
My father passed away a year ago. He was found in his home after a couple of weeks so the best thing that we (my mom, borhter, and myself) thought we could do to lay him to rest was to have him cremated. My father was originally from Nigeria, and his family began showing up after they heard of his passing. All of my father's stocks, property, and other valuables are in Nigeria. He did not have a will, and his siblings have been trying (even when he was alive) to take his inheritance from us. My family is very poor, and as his survivors, I feel that we are entitled to his inheritance before they are. I need to prove that he is our father (he did not sign my brother or my own birth certificates). There are a lot of issues here: across seas negotiations, finding a lawyer, DNA/cremains testing, etc. How would I go about tackling this? It's already been a year and my searches here in South Carolina have proved to be frutiless. Any help that you could provide is much appreciated.

Our Response:
Our site is UK based so unfortunately we cannot comment on US based issues as we are not familiar enough with the laws there.
ExploreDNA - 18-May-18 @ 2:21 PM
My daughter's suppose daddy yesterday 5-16-18, I need to do a DNA to see if he is the daddy.....
Crystal - 18-May-18 @ 1:08 AM
My father passed away a year ago. He was found in his home after a couple of weeks so the best thing that we (my mom, borhter, and myself) thought we could do to lay him to rest was to have him cremated. My father was originally from Nigeria, and his family began showing up after they heard of his passing. All of my father's stocks, property, and other valuables are in Nigeria. He did not have a will, and his siblings have been trying (even when he was alive) to take his inheritance from us. My family is very poor, and as his survivors, I feel that we are entitled to his inheritance before they are. I need to prove that he is our father (he did not sign my brother or my own birth certificates). There are a lot of issues here: across seas negotiations, finding a lawyer, DNA/cremains testing, etc. How would I go about tackling this? It's already been a year and my searches here in South Carolina have proved to be frutiless. Any help that you could provide is much appreciated.
Lee - 17-May-18 @ 7:31 PM
If the heat destroys DNA, how was it possible to have so many forensic findings with new technology for pieces of burned bodies?
BigRed - 17-May-18 @ 1:53 AM
Blacky - Your Question:
My brother died some months ago,before his death the lady he married had a child for him which we have doubts about.I have three other brothers from the same parents as he was,how do we conduct a DNA test?

Our Response:
You would need the mother's consent to have a DNA test done, but the test would establish a relationship between your family and the child.
ExploreDNA - 14-May-18 @ 3:03 PM
My brother died some months ago,before his death the lady he married had a child for him which we have doubts about.I have three other brothers from the same parents as he was,how do we conduct a DNA test?
Blacky - 12-May-18 @ 2:08 AM
Marranda Murphree - Your Question:
My mother's younger sister ranaway at the age of 16, in 1984 my mother as well as the rest of my family my grandmother especially could use some closure on this we don't know if she is dead or what exactly happened she called from various places saying she would be home in 2 weeks after a few weeks of being gone and that was the last anyone had heard from her. if my mother was to submit her DNA is it possible to find a jane doe or track down her sister? any advice would help! thanks in advance.

Our Response:
It's unkikely DNA alone would help in this kind of search as you would need access to DNA database of missing/found persons to compare against. A private investigator might be of more use to you.
ExploreDNA - 11-May-18 @ 1:58 PM
my mother's younger sister ranaway at the age of 16, in 1984 my mother as well as the rest of my family my grandmother especially could use some closure on this we don't know if she is dead or what exactly happened she called from various places saying she would be home in 2 weeks after a few weeks of being gone and that was the last anyone had heard from her. if my mother was to submit her DNA is it possible to find a jane doe or track down her sister? any advice would help! thanks in advance.
Marranda Murphree - 10-May-18 @ 1:06 AM
Madge - Your Question:
My son died 22 years ago now a 30 year old lad has turned up saying my son is his father I dont have any other relatives while there is a resemblance to my son I need some sort of proof that he is my grandson what do I do

Our Response:
If you and this man who says he's your grandson both take a DNA test, the result will show whether or not you are related and therefore whether relationship existed between your son and this man.
ExploreDNA - 8-May-18 @ 12:39 PM
My son died 22 years ago now a 30 year old lad has turned up saying my son is his father i dont have any other relatives while there is a resemblance to my son i need some sort of proof that he is my grandson what do i do
Madge - 8-May-18 @ 11:02 AM
Mike- Your Question:
Hello, I'm 52 years old. Up until recently, I've always thought my father was one person. After 52 years I'm being told it was someone different. Apparently my mother had an affair before I was born. Everyone has since past away, my mother, the man I've always thought to be my dad, and the other man. So, obviously I can't ask my mother. But, I've always wondered why I didn't look like the who my mother claimed my father to be. I just received a picture from a family member and was told this is who you father really was. They also shared the behind everything. Holy cow, I can see a resemblance between me and this man. The man pasted away over 30 years ago, he never had any other kids. I figure I'm out of luck, but wanted to ask. Is there away for me to find out for sure that he was my dad? This really has me curious.

Our Response:
If there are no other living relatives and your supposed father has also passed away, there is not much you can do.
ExploreDNA - 4-May-18 @ 3:30 PM
Hello, I'm 52 years old. Up until recently, I've always thought my father was one person. After 52 years I'm being told it was someone different. Apparently my mother had an affairbefore I was born. Everyone has since past away, my mother, the man I've always thought to be my dad, and the other man. So, obviously I can't ask my mother. But, I've always wondered why I didn't look like the who my mother claimed my father to be. I just received a picture from a family member and was told this is who you father really was. They also shared the behind everything. Holy cow, I can see a resemblance between me and this man. The man pasted away over 30 years ago, he never had any other kids. I figure I'm out of luck, but wanted to ask. Is there away for me to find out for sure that he was my dad? This really has me curious.
Mike - 3-May-18 @ 4:05 PM
My father passed away in 1984 at age 79. He was adopted at age 5 and after he was grown he had found some of his mother's distant relatives, but his mother was deceased. His parents were divorced after he was born. I wonder what happened to the other family members of his Dad's.I have my father's hairbrush with some hair in it. Is there a way to find his family?
Miriam - 30-Apr-18 @ 4:28 AM
Hi, my name is Chris Bennett and I am 57 years old. Two years ago my adopted son died in a car crash and now a month ago a man turned up at my house door claiming himself my son. According to him, he had amnesia and recently he started remembering about his life again. How do I find out that this person is my son or not? Do I go for DNA testing? If yes then what kind of DNA test should be done?
Chris - 25-Apr-18 @ 7:47 PM
Hello, my sister was adopted when her biological mother gave her up at 5 by my mother and father.Both my parents are now decreased and my sister was killed du to domestic violence last week. Her biological mother wants to do a DNA test on my sister's dead body so she can have paperwork to prove she is the mother...pleas help..is this possible and does this make sense.
Ton - 25-Apr-18 @ 12:48 AM
Kiyyah- Your Question:
Hi I'm 21 I got pregnant last year in February but I don't know who the father is cause it's three possible guy's and one just got killed yesterday night if the other two are not his father how can I get DNA from the third guy if he's now dead.

Our Response:
If you have DNA from the other possible fathers, then by a process of elimination, if neither of them is the father, the deceased one is.
ExploreDNA - 11-Apr-18 @ 2:22 PM
Hi I'm 21 I got pregnant last year in February but i don't know who the father is cause it's three possible guy's and one just got killed yesterday night if the other two are not his father how can I get DNA from the third guy if he's now dead.
Kiyyah - 10-Apr-18 @ 10:35 PM
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