Hospital Trust Sold Patients' Skin for Weapons Research

Article excerpt

SKIN REMOVED from patients during breast and stomach operations was sold for chemical weapons research without their knowledge, a health trust admitted yesterday.

Salisbury Health Care Trust sold the surplus skin to the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency at Porton Down for an annual fee of pounds 17,000 a year.

The skin, taken from plastic surgery patients at Salisbury District Hospital, was used in "chemical absorption studies" as well as investigations of drug delivery and barrier cream formulation.

The trust said it stopped the sale of surplus skin two weeks ago after the damning report into the mass removal of organs from dead children without their parents' consent at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool.

Patients at Salisbury were required to sign a consent form agreeing to tissue being used for "medical research," but the form did not explain it would be sold to Porton Down

"The Trust now recognises that this did not inform patients of the specific use of the skin and that some individuals may not have wished for the skin to be used by the [agency] and offers its sincere apologies for this," it said.

"The Trust made a decision to stop providing skin to the [agency] two weeks ago in the light of issues raised in the Alder Hey report. …