Home > Ask Our Experts > DNA Test after Death

DNA Test after Death

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 14 Dec 2017 | 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.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Mother died from cancer. Had treatments for almost year. Was cremated. Possible to still get any DNA from remains. It was 14 yrs ago Family says I was adopted, how do I find out. Father is dead, buried traditionally but I can’t afford exhumation
Teri - 14-Dec-17 @ 5:28 PM
Hi, I lost my daughter nearly 3 years ago (she was 4yo) in a car crash, i was not in the car but was one of the first responders to attend the scene, it was the worst day of my life and to be honest i was not thinking properly when we had her cremated as i would have wanted a dna profile of her so we had at least that of her remaining. Now the question. I have my work shirt, never washed and stored in a dark draw since her death in a plastic bag, it was covered with her blood and some brain matter. Also in her ashes i have noticed some bone fragments and some tooth fragments. Is there any way this far along i could successfully extract my daughter's dna from the above mentioned items?it would mean the world to my wife and i.
Jp - 4-Dec-17 @ 6:34 AM
Hi just wondering on my birth certificate has my mum name and father but before my mum passed she told me he weren't my father so how can i fine out who my father is ... as both parents on birth certificate are deceased .
Shakara - 25-Nov-17 @ 4:35 AM
My daughter recently passed away and I have doubts that she was mine can it be proven from a lock of hair?
Dem23 - 22-Nov-17 @ 12:34 AM
I found out that my biological father is dead and I dont know who he is, is there a way to do a test without anyone knowing to find out the guy?
Kaylee P. - 13-Nov-17 @ 5:05 PM
ank - Your Question:
How can I prove that 2 people, a man and a woman, are actually brother and sister, if the father has died many years ago and his/her mothers is different ?

Our Response:
If the two people are still alive, a DNA test would prove a biological relationship between therm.
ExploreDNA - 23-Oct-17 @ 10:20 AM
How can I prove that 2 people, a man and a woman, are actually brother and sister, if the father has died many years ago and his/her mothers is different ?
ank - 19-Oct-17 @ 6:41 AM
My mom and George Jones was seeing each other back in 1965 66 67 February was the last time thy seen each other and i never found out if he was my father i don't have a lot of money to have him pulled up and i would like to know if i could find my father before i pass on but im not sure how to get that done .my Name is Marlon Frazier from Beaumont Texas. Thank you for your time i hope someone can help me on this if someone. can i was born 06/15/1967 just 4 months after George Jones stop see my mom.
Cowboy - 17-Oct-17 @ 11:03 PM
My uncle was missing for 5 years.Found his body .The State Police in Wv sent the body to National Missing and unidentified person In Texas .It has been over a yr. My Dad just diedand I have the funeral home get a hair sample but the cut it Not pulled it with the hair frolics. I aso had the State Police do a DNA in my Aunt a mouth swab.how long will it take to show a match.
Deb - 21-Sep-17 @ 6:47 PM
My son was murdered by his girlfriend and she is pregnant. The coroner has his dna. There is speculation the baby is not his. How do I go about testing the dna?
nonnie - 21-Sep-17 @ 3:16 PM
I lost my daughter last year. Since her passing there's been multiple statements made regarding her paternity. I do have a friend who believes he is her father. And apparently the man who was helping to raise her, signed her birth certificate and all that is now saying hes not her father. So id really like to find out if theres a way to do a paternity test?
Mommy3119 - 1-Sep-17 @ 8:04 AM
Our Son was killed in a Violent Motor Cycle wreck , his girlfriend was pregnant when he passed away. She had a little girl 1 moth later. We just met her after 6 years. She looks just like me and my Son. Me and her did a DNA. IF she is my Son's daughter would she be able to have his last name.I would approve of this if she is his. Thanks
Barry Jenkins - 31-Aug-17 @ 12:40 AM
I was adopted over 40yrs ago and never knew my biological father until approx 5yrs ago when I managed to locate him. When I met him he confirmed that he believed he was my natural father. Sadly he passed away shortly after meeting him. Now I am left wondering whether he was actually my father. I assume dna testing is the only way to confirm that he was my biological father. Clearly this is now difficult with his passing but perhaps not impossible. When I met him he told me he had been in trouble with the law and had served a short custodial sentence. Can I match my Dna with that of my suspected father by gaining access to the Dna taken from him by the police? Your help in this matter would be very much appreciated
Tommy - 30-Aug-17 @ 9:17 PM
I have kept fingers nails of my father who died 28 years ago, can I have a DNA test with such a sample?
Pastor - 24-Aug-17 @ 9:42 PM
Cat - Your Question:
I was told that the man that I called Dad wasn't my father. The man that is supposed to be my father is die in 2012 but I have some of his ashes. Could I do a DNA test on his ashes?

Our Response:
No, that ashes would probably not be sufficient to perfom sufficient DNA analysis to establish/rule out paternity.
ExploreDNA - 16-Aug-17 @ 11:01 AM
I was told that the man that I called Dad wasn't my father. The man that is supposed to be my father is die in 2012 but I have some of his ashes. Could I do a DNA test on his ashes?
Cat - 14-Aug-17 @ 4:07 AM
Rmebraatt - Your Question:
My son passed away and I have his ashes and baby teeth, is there a way to get his DNA profile? I was adopted and told the search would be better if I had male DNA of a relative.the only blood male relative is my son and he passed away at 15 from suicide.any help or where to direct me would be appreciated, this has been my focus since he passed because for some weird reason, I want to find more biological family.

Our Response:
Ask at a DNA testing clinic whether there is any dried blood left on the teeth that might just be suffficient for DNA profiling. Pulp is the main source of DNA in teeth but it doesn't survive very long (6 to 12 months) once it's no longer in the mouth.
ExploreDNA - 10-Aug-17 @ 10:50 AM
My son passed away and I have his ashes and baby teeth, is there a way to get his DNA profile? I was adopted and told the search would be better if I had male DNA of a relative....the only blood male relative is my son and he passed away at 15 from suicide....any help or where to direct me would be appreciated, this has been my focus since he passed because for some weird reason, I want to find more biological family...
Rmebraatt - 9-Aug-17 @ 2:04 AM
My ex wife has always told me my late son was my biological son but o was not named on the birth certificate!!! My son also had a son 3mths before he passed away I am not sure if my grandson is my biological grandson? Can I do a DNA with his mothers consent?
Freddy - 26-Jul-17 @ 10:18 PM
Lost - Your Question:
I have 3 older sisters who share the same mother and father. When I was conceived, my mother and her husband were legally separated. My mother has always told me that her husband was not my father, and he told his 3 children I wasn't, either. The problem I have is he is listed on my birth certificate as my father & at birth, I was given his last name. I know the name of the man who my mother said was my father, and he was married, too. He said I was his daughter, as well, but as a child, I was continually told by my dad's wife that her husband was not my father. Due to this reason, I suffered a lot of physical and mental abuse from her. The abuse started when I was about 3 years-old and it has affected me deeply. I grew up afraid of people and I trusted no one - not even my mother! My father passed away suddenly when I was 11 years-old. At his funeral, I wasn't acknowledged, and I received a battery of dirty looks from her family. Over 40 years have passed, and I am still deeply troubled. I now have more years behind me, than ahead of me and before God calls me home, I'd like to know was the man who my mother said was my father really my biological father? Fortunately, I am close to his sister's children. Is there a way to compare my DNA with that of one of my paternal cousins to see if we are really related? I just need to know.

Our Response:
You should ask at a DNA testing centre whether a relationship between your possible father's nieces and you would be sufficient to tell this.
ExploreDNA - 26-Jul-17 @ 2:47 PM
In Hindu purana their is a story once sage suklacharya drunk a water in which it contains burnt ashes of a dead body...in this mythical story he brought the ashes of a person into alive ...is this a fiction??? Or can we consider it as acloning related story from burnt ashes...
Nothing - 22-Jul-17 @ 7:08 PM
I have 3 older sisters who share the same mother and father.When I was conceived, my mother and her husband were legally separated.My mother has always told me that her husband was not my father, and he told his 3 children I wasn't, either. The problem I have is he is listed on my birth certificate as my father & at birth, I was given his last name.I know the name of the man who my mother said was my father, and he was married, too.He said I was his daughter, as well, but as a child, I was continually told by my dad's wife that her husband was not my father.Due to this reason, I suffered a lot of physical and mental abuse from her.The abuse started when I was about 3 years-old and it has affected me deeply.I grew up afraid of people and I trusted no one - not even my mother!My father passed away suddenly when I was 11 years-old.At his funeral, I wasn't acknowledged, and I received a battery of dirty looks from her family.Over 40 years have passed, and I am still deeply troubled.I now have more years behind me, than ahead of me and before God calls me home, I'd like to know was the man who my mother said was my father really my biological father?Fortunately, I am close to his sister's children.Is there a way to compare my DNA with that of one of my paternal cousins to see if we are really related?I just need to know.
Lost - 21-Jul-17 @ 2:45 AM
My daughter's grandma called to see if my daughter could go to mexico to give her DNA. She gave no reason why she needed. I can only guess that her (grandma's) son went missing about 5 years ago and they found a body. But I don't want my daughter going to mexico because of the violence. Can they (the morge )not use her (grandma's) DNA of one of her other children? Thank you
Liz - 13-Jul-17 @ 4:08 AM
Mari - Your Question:
I want to know if I can do a DNA test on my son his father passed away disnt give him time change it in the birth certificate

Our Response:
This will only be possible if you have sample dna from the father.
ExploreDNA - 6-Jul-17 @ 2:31 PM
I want to know if i can do a DNA test on my son his father passed away disnt give him time change it in the birth certificate
Mari - 6-Jul-17 @ 4:24 AM
FatherUnknown - Your Question:
My mother passed away recently and someone came to me saying that they thought their dad could be my father. All my life my paternity has been a question and I frequently am asked what my ethnicity is. On my birth certificate my 2 older siblings father is listed but I have always been told he's not my biological father. My question is can the girl who approached me and I have a dna test done together to establish if we are half sisters? Both of our mothers have passed away. Thanks.

Our Response:
There is nothing to prevent you from finding a DNA testing clinic and paying for this to satisfy your mind.
ExploreDNA - 4-Jul-17 @ 12:34 PM
Lyndz - Your Question:
I was curious to find out how I could get a DNA test done on myself to find out what ethnicity I am. My dad whom I have been calling dad for as long as I can remember, is not on my birth certificate never has been. I want to know if there is any test I cam do to prove he is not my dad due to how he treated me growing up and how different he still treats his other children from whom have my mothers last name and not our dads last name. From what I hear from others and characteristic wise they is a great chance he is not my father.?????

Our Response:
A search on the internet will bring up DNA testing centres in your area. A test may establish your ethnicity but unless you have a sample from the man you call your dad, it may establish your relationship with him.
ExploreDNA - 4-Jul-17 @ 10:33 AM
My mother passed away recently and someone came to me saying that they thought their dad could be my father. All my life my paternity has been a question and I frequently am asked what my ethnicity is. On my birth certificate my 2 older siblings father is listed but I have always been told he's not my biological father. My question is can the girl who approached me and I have a dna test done together to establish if we are half sisters? Both of our mothers have passed away. Thanks...
FatherUnknown - 3-Jul-17 @ 5:30 PM
I was curious to find out how I could get a DNA test done on myself to find out what ethnicity I am. My dad whom I have been calling dad for as long as I can remember, is not on my birth certificate never has been. I want to know if there is any test I cam do to prove he is not my dad due to how he treated me growing up and how different he still treats his other children from whom have my mothers last name and not our dads last name. From what I hear from others and characteristic wise they is a great chance he is not my father.?????
Lyndz - 2-Jul-17 @ 11:55 PM
Question: Unfortunately, My daughter was killed a few months ago. I was a single mom for her entire life. She never (admitted) to be curious as to who her father was. Again with the word 'Unfortunately', but, unfortunately the man we (I) think the father is is also deceased. Can we determine paternity with both the child and alleged father deceased? His (the alleged father) mother is willing to help if she can.
incredulity - 16-Jun-17 @ 11:58 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Teri
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    Mother died from cancer. Had treatments for almost year. Was cremated. Possible to still get any DNA from remains. It was 14 yrs ago Family…
    14 December 2017
  • Olas
    Re: Urine Testing for DNA Fragments
    Does dna enter the urine in the form of nucleuoproteins ? Or it enters alone I need explanation plz??
    9 December 2017
  • Lady Vee
    Re: An Overview of DNA Functions
    It's quite true that DNA was discovered by Crick and Watson based on the study I had on other sites... But I'm surprised you made…
    8 December 2017
  • Shakara
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    Hi just wondering on my birth certificate has my mum name and father but before my mum passed she told me he weren't my father so how can i…
    25 November 2017
  • Dem23
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    My daughter recently passed away and I have doubts that she was mine can it be proven from a lock of hair?
    22 November 2017
  • Philie
    Re: Basics of DNA Forensics Techniques
    good but put the glasses in a bowl and boil the superglue sing
    17 November 2017
  • Bryn
    Re: Y Chromosome Analysis
    I was a foundling abandoned by my mother when I was 13 days old in July 1945 I was placed in care and my birth was registered by Harrow…
    15 November 2017
  • Kaylee P.
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    I found out that my biological father is dead and I dont know who he is, is there a way to do a test without anyone knowing to find out the guy?
    13 November 2017
  • ExploreDNA
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    ank - Your Question:How can I prove that 2 people, a man and a woman, are actually brother and sister, if the father has died many years ago…
    23 October 2017
  • ank
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    How can I prove that 2 people, a man and a woman, are actually brother and sister, if the father has died many years ago and his/her mothers…
    19 October 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the ExploreDNA website. Please read our Disclaimer.