Family denied release of dying son’s organs by Humboldt sheriff’s office

UPDATE: Sheriff William Honsal has agreed to release the organ for donation after working with the Matilton family.

Eric Matilton has been on life support since the weekend of November 18th and he’s not expected to recover.

He sustained non-survivable injuries, but since he’s an organ donor, doctors kept him on life support.

“If you knew him, you’d be friends with him. He’s a nice guy. He’s got three boys and they got no father no more, y’know,” Eric’s father Clyde Matilton said. “I got a large family, he’s got nieces and nephews, they all love him. It’s a good thing. And he’s gone, but he could still help somebody.”

The family supports organ donation. Yet, Eric was in jail for a parole violation when guards found him unresponsive in his cell.

“Anytime there is a patient that is facing end of life decisions, and pursuant to Eric wishes, they were informed that he had chosen to be an organ donor if the opportunity existed for him at any point,” Donor Network West Senior Director of Donation Development Jaclyn Manzendo said. “It was determined he would be able to help several people with the gift of life.”

Eric is a match for four patients who need a liver, kidneys and a heart.

Yet, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office denied the family’s request to release Eric’s organs to those waiting for them.

The family also says Sheriff William Honsal hasn’t explained why.

“To my understanding, he has not reached out to the Matilton family, and that’s uncharacteristic of coroner partnerships,” Manzendo said. “They are involved in public servancy and that conversation should happen.”

Donor Network West works with more than 40 counties in California and Nevada to match organ donors and recipients.

The Matilton family partnered with the non-profit organization to seek answers as to why they are being denied Eric’s wishes.

“I don’t understand why the process is not working. I mean the process should work. It works everywhere. I just don’t understand why the process is not working this time,” Clyde said.

Especially as donations are time sensitive due to the lives that hang in the balance. 

“People are waiting. Y’know, we were told his heart is going to L.A. What about those people? The effects on their family if they die? Death is a hard thing, it’s hard for me. I just don’t want to see some other family go through this if they don’t have to,” Clyde said.

Eric’s case is incredibly rare as fewer than one percent of those who suffer this type of injury are able to donate their organs. 

Redwood News reached out to the Sheriff’s Office for comment on this case. They have not responded to our requests at this time of writing.

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