What if you finally located a death certificate online, or received one that you’d ordered, only to find out the cause of death has been redacted (obscured)?
While it isn’t “necessary” that we know the cause of death for all of our ancestors, it’s certainly a piece of the person’s life that we’d like to have.
Here’s one that I located online for the 2nd husband of my maternal Great Grandaunt, Edna Mabel Bowden. The man’s name is Elmer Wilbur Cunningham.
You can click on the image to enlarge it
A couple of other things jumped out at me. There was an autopsy performed and the onset of whatever killed this man had only just happened. The date of death and the onset of the cause of death are the same. He was only 54 yrs. old so this leads me to believe his death was sudden, which usually precipitates an autopsy.
IS THERE ANY WAY FOR ME TO ASCERTAIN WHAT CAUSED HIS DEATH?
YES, there is. It’s called an ICD code which stands for International Classification of Diseases. Note - these codes do not appear on all death certificates.
Here are a couple of links I found that explain what code 94a stands for:
According to the lists I located, code 94a is defined as Diseases of the Coronary Arteries.
Generally we think of coronary artery disease as something that goes on for some time. Why would it have been a sudden death, as I believe it to be?
Well, there could be a secondary cause of death listed, such as stroke, which would, of course have been sudden. I can’t see behind the redacted area, therefore I cannot determine if there is a secondary cause listed.
Will I find out more about this death? Probably not. This man was married to my grandaunt for only 3 years and they had no children together. I go down rabbit holes, like everyone else, but this is not one I will chase.
Did you know about ICD codes before reading this?
If not, will you be looking for them now?
If you have used these codes to find information, I’d love to hear about it.
If you are related to or connected to anyone in this blog post, please get in touch. Let’s exchange information.
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