DR G: ‘I wish I’d been around to carry out JFK’s autopsy’

Are you fascinated by the forensic cases and mysterious deaths that spring up week after week in Dr G: Medical Examiner? If so, you’re in for a treat! Recently, we caught up with the lady herself to discuss celebrity autopsies, silent killers and her strangest cases to date.

DR G: ‘I wish I’d been around to carry out JFK’s autopsy’

We must ask, what’s the strangest thing you’ve ever found in a body?

Occasionally, different cultures will try and humiliate the murder victim by inserting strange objects into various body parts. I’ve found potatoes lodged in rectums before. I’ve come across nuts and bolts in rectums too that have been placed there for sexual purposes. I’ve also seen suicide victims who’ve swallowed utensils before. These cases are all very sad.

Anything else?

Once a rat jumped out a chest cavity mid-autopsy! That threw me.

Yikes! Is there a celebrity autopsy you wish you’d carried out?

I wish I’d carried out JFK’s autopsy. When an autopsy isn’t performed correctly, it leads the way for conspiracy theories. I felt his autopsy was botched and poorly documented.

Have you ever performed an autopsy on someone you knew?

I’ve performed autopsies on people I’ve known but never a loved one. In my line of work, I’m able to disconnect from the person I am working on. The essence of that person has gone and you’re left with a shell.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

The science part of me says no but in my mind I believe there is some dimension to our existence that we don’t know about.

Do you ever get spooked in your line of work?

I was once carrying out an autopsy in a morgue autopsy suite during a thunderstorm and the electricity cut out. I’d just removed a body from the cooler and was dictating a case. I had the deceased’s hand in my hand at the moment of blackout. That was pretty freaky!

Also, earlier on in my career, I had to perform an autopsy on a man who was the same age as my father who had recently passed away. I suffered from nightmares for several weeks afterwards, imagining that it was my father on that morgue slab.

Are you at all squeamish?

I’m never squeamish in the autopsy room. However, if I see a dead animal on the sidewalk, I’ll walk to the other side of the street.

Which cases upset you the most?

Suicides are more upsetting than homicides. It’s saddening to know that someone was suffering internally and unable to ask for help – you wish you could turn back the clock. I’ve performed autopsies on kids that have committed suicide and it’s just so tragic. You can’t ever get used to that.

What do you love most about your work?

I love that I can make a difference. Sometime the police will come to me with a theory of accidental death and I’m able to prove otherwise – that it was homicide. You can’t argue with science.

What’s the biggest killer?

Alcohol – never underestimate the detrimental effects of alcohol. It’s involved in 30 - 50 % of suicides and 60 % of homicides. It’s also the main culprit behind car accidents and domestic violence. In America, 80,000 people die a year from alcohol-related illnesses. That statistic needs to drop!

What can the living do to live longer?

The silent killers are the ones you need to look out for. It sounds obvious but look after yourself and be vigilant. Exercise and watch your weight. I’d recommend getting your blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels checked out.

Coronary heart disease and diabetes are some of the biggest killers in the US. People don’t realise that diabetes can cause coronary problems, kidney disease, strokes and blindness. I implore everyone to get their blood sugar levels measured!

What can we expect from the new series?

You’ll have to wait and see. I’m pleased by how well the show has performed across the pond. I have the sweetest fans in the UK. They’ve actually visited the morgue where I work to tell us how much they love the show. It's great to know that the show has done so well across the pond.