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Human Leg Stolen From A Van In Downtown L.A.

L.A. County Coroner's Building (Photo by Gary Kavanagh via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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The search is on for a missing leg stolen from the parked van of a nonprofit organ donation organization.

Around 3 a.m. on Monday, employees from OneLegacy—a nonprofit organ and tissue donation organization—picked up the leg from the L.A. County coroner's lab to transport the limb for tissue donation, reports NBC Los Angeles. After the pick-up, the employees parked the van to eat at a restaurant in downtown L.A. When they returned from the meal, they found that the unmarked vehicle had been broken into and the leg—which was wrapped in blue-and-clear plastic and stored inside a cooler—was gone. Also taken from the van were two backpacks containing personal items belonging to the employees.

Authorities don't believe that whoever stole the cooler containing the leg was aware of the contents. "It wasn't just a leg sitting in a cooler — that's probably why the person was completely unaware of what it was," Mark Fajardo, the county's chief medical examiner-coroner, tells the L.A. Times.

The theft was reported to the LAPD, who helped the team from OneLegacy search for the missing leg, but the search was unsuccessful and a police report was filed. The coroner's office was then notified and along with OneLegacy they informed the family members of the late donor, according to the Times.

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Both the coroner's office and OneLegacy plan on making policy changes regarding the transport of organ and tissue donations. "A corrective action plan was instituted including never leaving organs/tissues unattended in a vehicle," Fajardo explained in a memo released to NBC LA.

Following the incident, OneLegacy also discovered a "potentially libelous statement" posted online about the theft, suggesting that the nonprofit and the coroner's office were conspiring to cover it up. An unidentified person also contacted news outlet's about the leg, according to Fajardo.

"As it stands today, we do not know who 'leaked' the information, but it appears at face value to be one of my employees," Fajardo explained in a letter to the county Board of Supervisors.

"I tried to be very direct and to the point informing the board," Fajardo told the Times. "Whether the leg turns up, I do not know."