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DNA Test after Death

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 26 Nov 2016 | 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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My question is if I have hair from my child and he has passed the father denied him, can I have a test done.
Dora - 26-Nov-16 @ 9:48 PM
My mother died in 2015 and was cremated. Her remains stayed with the funeral directors , recently after sorting where her final resting place was to be , we contacted the funeral parlour to say we were coming to collect mums ashes. The funeral directors told me mums ashes were delivered to her house not long after she was cremated . The story was not a good one and couldn't have happened ,after numerous e mails today they have miraculously found her ashes under her old married name not the one she was buried under. We are no doubting if the ashes are going to be genuine and are wondering if dna can be used to determine it is our mum . This is very upsetting for us we just want closure.
Suezy - 24-Oct-16 @ 3:11 PM
Hi i want to no if my dad was my biological farther but hes passed away a few years ago. Is their any way i can be tested with his full blood brothers and sisters to determine this? Thanks
Dc - 23-Sep-16 @ 7:03 AM
my brother recently passed and I jst learned of a child that may be his. In the past he had a test done thru DSS for an unrelated child.Can we use this to somehow test the paternity of the new child she is 3yrs
brandy - 3-Sep-16 @ 5:18 PM
Hi have been looking for my real dad. And to be told he's dead! Am looking to get DNA test done. From him even thou he's dead! This can be possible? Also Maria said she would take a DNA test done. But her mum and my dads side otf family are trying to keep me a secret from my dads other kids. As he would have had an affair with my mum. Marie
Marie - 22-Aug-16 @ 10:52 PM
Hi. Is it possible to do a DNA test from a stillborn baby's hair strands? If so how do I go about doing it? And who would you recommend I go to to get it done?
KevWilko - 9-Aug-16 @ 5:51 PM
My dad died 19 years ago he was never creamated but bauried is it possible to do a DNA test on him
Monkey - 3-Aug-16 @ 5:04 AM
My daughters' estranged father hijacked her body from the organ donation organization & had her cremated. He then refused to give me half the ashes until we threatened to involve the authorities. We were horrified to find huge bone fragments throughout them once we finally received them. The crematorium does not believe, based off of photos sent to them, that what I have are my daughters remains. What are the odds of a useable/testable amount of DNA surviving in big pieces of bone that has been burnt?? Are there any agencies that can do the testing & make the results available to police/courts??
OmniOwl - 19-Jul-16 @ 11:58 PM
I had to have an abortion back in 2000 my son was a stillborn do you have any records stating any where is remains are or cremation My name is Ana Rose McCloud
McCloud - 13-Jul-16 @ 2:03 AM
I was wondering if I could find my sons cremations from 2000 My name is Ana McCloud and he was allowed to be born because he had abnormality ball growing on top of his chest
McCloud - 13-Jul-16 @ 2:00 AM
Kay - Your Question:
Hello My mother passed way 17years ago and I was very young now I want to do tombstone for her but we are not sure with one is her crave they are three crave that looks old and they all buried the same day and we think one of those is my mother. My question is possible to do DNA and how can we do that and will take how long.

Our Response:
Contact the cemetery (or the church if it's in a graveyard) - they will have records of all the plots and who's in them.
ExploreDNA - 11-Jul-16 @ 10:42 AM
I am working on a fictional novel if you can offer an answer to me at my email. If a pregnant woman is murdered, what is the earliest that a paternity test can be done for prospective fathers? I mean how early in the pregnancy can a paternity test be done, would she have to beone month pregnant?Or will she need to be further along? thank you Wayne
writer - 9-Jul-16 @ 2:22 PM
Hello My mother passed way 17years ago and I was very young now I want to do tombstone for her but we are not sure with one is her crave they are three crave that looks old and they all buried the same day and we think one of those is my mother. My question is possible to do DNAand how can we do that and will take how long.
Kay - 8-Jul-16 @ 12:17 PM
How would I go about doing a DNA test when two of the people are dead?
Melon - 1-Jul-16 @ 4:38 PM
I have a very important question that has been truly bothering me for some time now. I had a twin brother that passed away in 2012, before he passed away he had a daughter. After he passed away the mother told told our family that it wasn't his. My question is how do I go about finding out if that is really his daughter? And what if the mother isn't cooperative in trying to help me find out if he is the real father or not? Please, any light you can shed on this topic would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Murphy - 27-Jun-16 @ 9:01 PM
I would like know if it possible to have cremated remains tested for bone cancer and any thing else
none - 25-Jun-16 @ 7:15 AM
gramma221 - Your Question:
My father was 90 yrs. old when I tried 2 times to have his saliva tested through Ancestry DNA. However, neither times were successful. He has recently (June 3, 2016) passed away. He has donated his body to the University of Nevada Reno where he is now. He has been embalmed so there is no 'fresh' DNA available. The UNR is willing to work with me to get his DNA if I can find a Comp. who will be able to do it. Genealogy is VERY important to me and my family and I am very earnest in being able to find out what we can do at this point whil his body is still available. Can you help me? If not. do you know where I can go to get this done? There is NOT MUCH Time left and the procedure needs to be done ASAP. Thank you for ANY help you can give me.

Our Response:
We're in the UK so we cannot really help. Maybe someone reading this might have some ideas.
ExploreDNA - 21-Jun-16 @ 2:29 PM
My father was 90 yrs. old when I tried 2 times to have his saliva tested through Ancestry DNA . However, neither times were successful.He has recently (June 3, 2016) passed away.He has donated his body to the University of Nevada Reno where he is now.He has been embalmed so there is no 'fresh' DNA available.The UNR is willing to work with me to get his DNA if I can find a Comp. who will be able to do it.Genealogy is VERY important to me and my family and I am very earnest in being able to find out what we can do at this point whil his body is still available.Can you help me?If not. do you know where I can go to get this done?There is NOT MUCH Time left and the procedure needs to be done ASAP.Thank you for ANY help you can give me.
gramma221 - 21-Jun-16 @ 3:17 AM
How far back does a hospital keep blood records or DNA of aborted child. Will my DNA prove I was not the father of aborted child in 1969.
don - 29-May-16 @ 1:50 PM
I was just reading some of the questions that people have asked you for information on. I can not believe the nutjobs that are asking questions! One person actually has their baby kept in alcohol until they can bury him! OMG why wasn't this done when they passed away! That is horrible! Their baby is not a science experiment for God's sake!
Just Wondering - 19-May-16 @ 9:18 PM
i have passed away and i am still alive. lol. Also i am a ghost. lol again.
fuck twister - 8-Apr-16 @ 8:43 PM
Son past in Dec 2015. Have a cheek swab that funeral home took and its been in an envolop since his passing. His ex-girlfriend just had the baby in question on the march 17th. Is the swabs still good?? And if so which/what test would be best to use?Thank you. Mal
Mal - 26-Mar-16 @ 6:06 AM
My brother passed away in 2007 and his kids are quarreling over weather he is the father of his second child's sister. I want to know if a paternity test can be done through me. I really want to put this matter to rest and keep the family together .can anyone help me.
Lynne - 23-Mar-16 @ 6:30 PM
I have a cousin that passed away recently I was just wondering if we got Dna from her body could that recarnate her somehow
Matteo - 19-Mar-16 @ 6:36 PM
my fafther passed away 25 years ago, any chance for dna to be conducted
SHUUUU - 10-Mar-16 @ 10:19 AM
my father was buried 25 years ago, any chance for dna to be conducted?
shuuuu - 10-Mar-16 @ 10:10 AM
Ninoo - Your Question:
Thank you for not answering my question. you seem to pick questions for replying randomly!!!!!Write it bold we answer questions that we want.

Our Response:
We haven't seen a follow up to the question we responded to? We don't answer all the questions we get due to time constraints but do try to get through as many as we can.
ExploreDNA - 26-Feb-16 @ 10:45 AM
Thank you for not answering my question. you seem to pick questions for replying randomly!!!!! Write it bold we answer questions that we want.
Ninoo - 25-Feb-16 @ 12:18 AM
My mother passed away 5 years ago & on her birth certificate Father is listed unknown. Without my mom's dna is there any way to determine her biological father? Thank you, Mel
Mel - 24-Feb-16 @ 11:29 PM
Jackie - Your Question:
My husband passed away in 2014. The last 23 years he had been severely sick. I have a tooth of his and was wondering if DNA testing could be done on it to use as an ancestry tool and also as a health risk tool for my son. Please let me know if this would be possible and where I could send it for testing.;

Our Response:
It might be sufficient. You should try a DNA testing clinic for advice.
ExploreDNA - 19-Feb-16 @ 10:54 AM
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