Published: Oct 03, 2011 7:45 PM EDT

CHICAGO (AP) - Bodies left for more than two weeks at the Cook County medical examiner's office because families cannot afford burial will be donated for medical research, according to a memo from the chief medical examiner.
    
The new policy will be "effective immediately," chief medical examiner Dr. Nancy Jones wrote in a memo dated Sept. 27.
    
Families who say they can't afford a burial should be told their relative's remains "will be released to the Anatomic Gift Association within two weeks of receipt by the medical examiner's Office," the memo states. The association acts as a clearinghouse for bodies donated to medical education and research.
    
"It is important that all reporting agencies be asked about the HIV status, weight and state of decomposition of all cases reported as no kin, no funds or for storage," the memo says.
    
Exceptions will include decomposed bodies, those infected with the AIDS virus and bodies that weigh more than 300 pounds. The county will bury those bodies.
    
Police must make "all efforts" to find next of kin, Jones wrote in the memo. But in cases where no relatives are found those bodies also will be donated after two weeks.

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