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DNA Test after Death

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 14 Aug 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.

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[Add a Comment]
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
I was wondering if it is possible to do a DNA test on a lock hair that is well over 40 years old?
acervantes700 - 7-Jun-17 @ 3:04 AM
My daughter was born crying but past away 6 and half hours later and all I have is a lock of hair can you get DNA from that ?
Shaz - 22-May-17 @ 11:14 PM
Lost - Your Question:
Looking for closure. My mother said she was raped, and did not know who my father was. As time went on I discovered through family rumors it could have been her step father. She stuck to her story of not knowing. Jump to 20years ahead. My mother passed away in the 90's. She was cremated. Her step sister called me up stating she believed I was her half sister, she stated things didn't make sense. Her father denied allegations before his passing in 2000's. She is willing to do a DNA test. Who else do I need to do the test? Only his other daughter ( her full sister) knows about her finding me. I have told my aunts and an uncle. My mother had no more children. Would like to involve as few people as possible and find out the truth.

Our Response:
If you both take a DNA test that should be sufficient to see whether you are related. We're assuming your mother and her step sister don't also share the same mother.
ExploreDNA - 17-May-17 @ 9:40 AM
Billy- Your Question:
Mothers passed fathers creamated but I have clippers he shaved with can I get his DNA from the clippers

Our Response:
It's unlikely that you can, but if you ask at a DNA testing laboratory they will be able to tell you.
ExploreDNA - 17-May-17 @ 9:34 AM
Looking for closure. My mothersaid she was raped, and did not know who my father was. As time went on I discovered through family rumors it could have been her step father. She stuck to her story of not knowing. Jump to 20years ahead. My mother passed away in the 90's. She was cremated. Her step sister called me up stating she believed I was her halfsister, she stated things didn't make sense. Her father denied allegations before his passing in 2000's. She is willing to do a DNA test. Who else do I need to do the test? Only his other daughter ( her full sister) knows about her finding me. I have told my aunts and an uncle. My mother had no more children. Would like to involve as few people as possible and find out the truth.
Lost - 14-May-17 @ 8:29 AM
Mothers passed fathers creamated but I have clippers he shaved with can I get his DNA from the clippers
Billy - 14-May-17 @ 1:47 AM
MommyofanAngel - Your Question:
Im hoping you can help me gain some closure. Ten years ago I lost my 22 day old baby girl to SIDS. I have two things that continue to eat at my brain still to this day.The first is in regards to paternity. On her birth certificate I gave the name of who I believed to be her father. (He was an ex who I ended up having a one night stand with at a halloween party) I didn't sleep with anyone after that. So I was pretty sure he was her father. He signed the paper admitting to paternity as opposed to requesting a dna. She was born with blond hair blue eyes (the alleged father had blond half blue eyes as did his two children)I had no reason to ever question paternity.Ten years later I reunited with my now wonderful husband. After many conversations I came to the realization tha husband and I had been intimate quite frequently (right before I had that one night stand with the alleged father. I realized the baby looked identical to my hubbys other children. Almost exact. O realized that the possibility of my hubby being her father was way higher than it was it had ever been with the named father. My husband truly believes she was his baby. On her autoposy it list my self and the original alleged father as parents. My question is.did they establish paternity when they performed autoposy or did they Go off of birth certificate?

Our Response:
No they will have used the name you gave them as the father.
ExploreDNA - 2-May-17 @ 2:45 PM
Im hoping you can help me gain some closure. Ten years ago I lost my 22 day old baby girl to SIDS. I have two things that continue to eat at my brain still to this day.The first is in regards to paternity. On her birth certificate I gave the name of who I believed to be her father. (He was an ex who I ended up having a one night stand with at a halloween party) I didn't sleep with anyone after that. So I was pretty sure he was her father. He signed the paper admitting to paternity as opposed to requesting a dna. She was born with blond hair blue eyes (the alleged father had blond half blue eyes as did his two children)I had no reason to ever question paternity.Ten years later I reunited with my now wonderful husband. After many conversations I came to the realization tha husband and I had been intimate quite frequently (right before I had that one night stand with the alleged father. I realized the baby looked identical to my hubbys other children. Almost exact. O realized that the possibility of my hubby being her father was way higher than it was it had ever been with the named father. My husband truly believes she was his baby. On her autoposy it list my self and the original alleged father as parents. My question is.did they establish paternity when they performed autoposy or did they Go off of birth certificate?
MommyofanAngel - 2-May-17 @ 11:00 AM
How do I find out if my ex husband who passed away a few months ago really has daughter . I have a few things with her DNA on them and I have his child
The1 - 29-Apr-17 @ 2:01 PM
Is it possible to take a DNA test of a burnt and rotten body?
Jannat - 3-Apr-17 @ 2:39 PM
My late husband passed 20 years ago and i recently found one of his teeth with 3 roots intact. A long lost daughter of his recently surfaced. I am wondering if dna can be found to prove parternity and how much it ususally costs to do so????
Cindy - 26-Mar-17 @ 6:50 PM
My father died 38 years ago in US, his autopsy says from carbon monoxide intoxication, but I'm sure that isn't the whole story, a year ago his remains were exhumed to bury my grandmother with him, I would like to know if right now, there is a dna test to discover any substance in his liver
gessy - 12-Mar-17 @ 8:22 PM
can i getDNA from a watch that my father owned ? i was told he wasnt my real father but i look so like him ?
RAMSEY - 26-Feb-17 @ 4:14 PM
Y-dna genealogy question:In 2007 I sent several 'licked' envelopes to a reputable dna lab. I was hoping the lab might detect Y-dna for my father whodied in 1993. (There are no surviving males in my father's line--not even any distant cousins.) The lab was unable to find any dna. Has dna detection improved in the past ten years enough to warrant submitting samples again?Are there other items among my father's mementos that might have greater potential? (For instant I have an old watch wristband that I thought might have skin cells imbedded. )
deadwestboys - 17-Feb-17 @ 11:56 PM
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Latest Comments
  • ExploreDNA
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    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…
    16 August 2017
  • Cat
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    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…
    14 August 2017
  • ExploreDNA
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    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…
    10 August 2017
  • Rmebraatt
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    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…
    9 August 2017
  • Freddy
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    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…
    26 July 2017
  • ExploreDNA
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    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…
    26 July 2017
  • Nothing
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    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…
    22 July 2017
  • Lost
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    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…
    21 July 2017
  • Liz
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    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…
    13 July 2017
  • ExploreDNA
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    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…
    6 July 2017
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