Background: Rapid Autopsy Programs offer an opportunity to collect tissue from patients immediately after death, providing critical biological material necessary to develop more effective therapies and improve patient outcomes. Here, we present a step-by-step guide to build a cancer-focused Rapid Autopsy Program, based on our own experiences building “The Legacy Project” at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Methods: The linear timeline of events is separated into four phases: 1) Building the Infrastructure, 2) Recruiting and Consenting, 3) Preparing for Death, and 4) Tissue Collection and Follow up. Important considerations and methods for adaptation are discussed throughout the protocol.
Discussion: Using these methods, we successfully collected a total of 533 specimens from 9 subjects. The average time from death to last specimen acquisition was 6.1 hours (range: 4.03 – 7.66 hours; median: 5.71 hours). A diverse team with various areas of expertise is critical for successful program implementation. Our goal herein this protocol is to provide a comprehensive framework and foundation for other institutions to use as a model.