SICKENING; Mortuary Staff Paid 12 1 /2P Bonus for Robbing Dead Babies of Organs Hospital Says It Received Donations ...but Cannot Tell Us How Much

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Byline: EXCLUSIVE BY FIONNUALA BOURKE

A HOSPITAL has revealed that staff were paid a 12 1 /2p 'bonus' for cutting out body parts from dead children without their parents' permission.

The cash was given to mortuary technicians at Birmingham Children's Hospital for the removal of pituitary glands from the brain which were later used for research.

The Sunday Mercury forced health chiefs to reveal the shameful payments under the newFreedom of Information Act. But the cash bonus was the ONLY figure health chiefs could confirm they had received after taking thousands of organs from children over a 35-year period and selling them for research.

No other files relating to the scandal - including which companies had received the body parts - could be found, they claimed.

In 1999, the Sunday Mercury was the first newspaper to reveal how Birmingham Children's Hospital had retained organs and tissue from dead children.

As well as pituitary glands, the hospital had admitted taking 1,500 hearts, lungs and brains from deceased young patients without gaining proper written permission from parents.

We used the Freedom of Information Act to try and force the hospital to reveal exactly how much money it had accepted for the body parts, and list the names of the pharmaceutical companies involved.

The Trust initially said no cash payment figures were available, although it acknowledged that they had received some 'donations' in return for the organs.

It wasnot until we threatened to report the Trust to the Information Commissioner for failing to comply with the new act that the figure of 2/6d was revealed - the equivalent of 12 1 /2p in today's money.

The only other cash that the health unit admitted receiving was 'a small donation' from a pharmaceutical company for supplying tissue from thymus glands, found at the base of the neck.

But they claimed no other records relating to the transactions could be found and that they had no official records of the names of the companies involved.

Matt Redmond, founder of the Birmingham-based Stolen Hearts Bereaved Parents Group, said: 'Five years later and they are still trying to cover this whole scandal up.

'How can they say they no longer have the records of these transactions? How could they have got rid of them? Do they not think this information is important to people?

'Some of the families we represent have had to hold two or three funerals to bury their children properly. But the hospital cannot even tell us the full account of why they put them through this ordeal.'

The campaigner's six year-old daughter Karen had her heart removed without his permission at the Children's Hospital in 1966.

He added: 'It is a scandalous abuse of our children's bodies. The Trust clearly put profits before people.

'Words cannot describe the anger of the bereaved parents whose children's bodies were abused in such a way.

'It is barbaric. 'Those responsible for the theft and sale of our children's body parts should be brought to justice and not see the light of day again. …