February 10, 2022

Embalmers and funeral home workers say they are noticing an increase in unusual blood clots among the deceased. Some of them, without evidence, are attributing it to the COVID-19 vaccines.

One of the claims comes from an article titled “Embalmers finding ‘strange clots’ in jabbed people” and published by NewsWars, a website run by Alex Jones that has a history of spreading fake news and conspiracy theories.

“I actually pulled this long, fibrous-looking clot out prior to embalming … . At the front end of it, it looks like a normal blood clot, but that white fibrous-looking stuff just isn’t normal,” Alabama embalmer Richard Hirschman was quoted in the article as saying. Hirschman added that “my gut is telling me” it’s caused by the vaccine.

Hirschman shared similar claims on the “Dr. Jane Ruby Show,” and with PolitiFact when we contacted him.

John O’Looney of Milton Keynes Family Funeral Services based in the United Kingdom made similar claims to InfoWars, another conspiracy-oriented website run by Jones, suggesting that “the experimental shot” could be to blame.

Experts we talked to say there’s something to the claim about a greater incidence of blood clots, but they dismiss the idea that it’s linked to the vaccines. What embalmers are noticing, they say, could well be the effects of COVID-19 infection itself, and those effects are occurring in people who are vaccinated and unvaccinated.

More than 900,000 people in the U.S., and nearly 5.8 million worldwide, have died of COVID-19 or related causes. This could explain why funeral home workers are encountering more bodies that show effects of a COVID-19 infection, which include blood vessel inflammation, damage to very small vessels, and blood clots.

Hirschman acknowledged on the “Dr. Jane Ruby Show” that one of the dead people in which he observed the blood clots “was vaccinated, but also had apparently contracted COVID anyway.”

“The association between COVID-19 and blood clots was recognized early in the pandemic among hospitalized COVID-19 patients,” said Yazan Abou-Ismail, a hematologist at University of Utah Health. “These patients experienced blood clots both in deep veins and arteries, which sometimes led to strokes and heart attacks. Although these conditions have mostly been seen in patients with severe COVID-19 illness, people with moderate illness have also developed blood clots.”

Abou-Ismail said the incidence of blood clots ranged from 20% to 40% among patients with severe COVID-19 illness, and 3% to 9% among those with mild to moderate COVID-19 illness.

Abnormal clots were found in COVID-19 victims “long before vaccinations were available,” said licensed embalmer Monica Torres, of NXT Generation Mortuary Support in Phoenix, “and it is not uncommon to find dark blood clots in any deceased, not just COVID persons, who have been stored in refrigeration for a long period of time before embalming.”

The National Funeral Directors Association, a U.S. professional organization, told PolitiFact that embalmers in its network have noticed similar abnormalities in COVID-related deaths, but among both the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

“It’s only anecdotal evidence, and there’s no scientific evidence to draw any conclusions,” said Jessica Koth, director of public relations for the association.

Embalmers typically do not know the vaccination status of those they are embalming, according to the experts PolitiFact spoke to. “It is not on the death certificate,” said Dr. Hari P. Close, national president of the National Funeral Directors & Morticians Association.

Vaccines and blood clots

It is worth noting that the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has been linked to a higher risk for a serious condition called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS, which is a combination of a blood clot and low platelets. The condition is considered “very rare and treatable when diagnosed in time,” according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that out of more than 18.2 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine given in the United States as of Feb. 3, it has confirmed 57 reports of people who developed TTS after vaccination, and has identified nine deaths attributed to TTS following vaccination.

Generally, the vaccines available in the U.S. have been shown to sharply reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

Even before COVID-19 arose, cardiovascular diseases were the leading cause of death globally and in the U.S. According to the World Health Organization, “an estimated 17.9 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2019, representing 32% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85% were due to heart attack and stroke.”

Our ruling

news article claimed that embalmers are “finding ‘strange clots’ in jabbed people.”

The article gives the impression that the clots are linked to the COVID-19 vaccine. But there’s no scientific evidence of such a link.

Embalmers say they have noticed an uptick in unusual blood clots. But experts noted that the COVID-19 infection itself can cause blood vessel inflammation, damage to very small vessels, and blood clots.

We rate this claim Mostly False.

This fact check was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. It is republished here with permission. See the sources for this fact check here and more of their fact checks here.

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Naseem Ferdowsi is a contributing reporter for PolitiFact.
Naseem Ferdowsi

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