YOU'RE GRAVE ROBBERS; Docs at Second Scots Hospital Admit Taking Organs from Dead Kids

By Roberts, Lesley | Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), September 3, 2000 | Go to article overview

YOU'RE GRAVE ROBBERS; Docs at Second Scots Hospital Admit Taking Organs from Dead Kids


Roberts, Lesley, Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)


A SECOND Scots hospital has admitted removing the organs of dead babies without telling their parents, the Sunday Mail can reveal today.

The growing scandal has spread to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh where bereaved parents have now been told their children's body parts were examined - then simply thrown away.

Last night, one angry mum hit out, branding the doctors involved "nothing short of grave robbers".

Grieving parents, already traumatised after discovering that surgeons at Glasgow's Yorkhill Hospital had removed organs from their children without their permission, will be shocked to learn of the latest scandal.

In a letter to the parents of a baby boy who died, management from the Sick Kids in Edinburgh concede that the infant's brain had been taken out and 'disposed of'.

It is the first clear evidence that the practice of removing organs for 'examination and education' purposes without the knowledge of parents has not been confined to Yorkhill.

And it confirms the worst fears of Scots campaigning group, the National Committee for the Retention of Organs.

Alerted by publicity centred on the Glasgow hospital, the grieving family from the east coast of Scotland contacted Edinburgh's Sick Kids for information on what had happened to their baby's body after the post-mortem.

They received a formal letter, signed by Mike Grieve, divisional general manager of Women, Children and Associated Services at Edinburgh Sick Kids, which read: "For the purpose of detailed examination in infants, it is necessary for the brain to be fixed in formaldehyde.

"I can confirm that this procedure was followed and the brain subsequently examined.

"After completion of the examination, remaining brain tissue was respectfully and separately disposed of. This is in keeping with normal practice.

"I am sorry for the distress this matter has caused you."

The parents are still too distraught to talk publicly of their experience, but have passed their letter to the campaign group fighting for a full investigation into organ retention.

A Sick Kids' spokeswoman later told the Sunday Mail neither Mr Grieve nor a representative of the pathology department was available for comment.

She added: "I do know that consent forms were revised, but I don't have anyone who is appropriate or available to speak to you about that."

Last night Geraldine MacDonald, of The National Committee for the Retention of Organs, said: "Sadly, we are not at all surprised to find that this has been going on at hospitals other than Yorkhill.

"We fully expect to be told at some point that hospitals all over Scotland have been involved.

"This potentially affects every bereaved parent in the country. We should all be concerned in finding out the truth."

The revelation about Edinburgh comes on the eve of a crucial meeting between the Yorkhill parents and Health Minister Susan Deacon. Tomorrow a delegation of devastated families will converge on the Scottish Parliament to lobby for a public inquiry into the "barbaric behaviour of Yorkhill pathologists".

When the Sunday Mail broke the news of the Yorkhill scandal last year it shocked the whole of Scotland.

Parents, some of whose children had died years before, were devastated to learn that their tots had been 'butchered' after their deaths - and that they had been buried without hearts, brains and other organs. Nine years after losing her three-year-old daughter Charlene, Daisy Sutherland's world collapsed when she learned the youngster's brain had been removed, and later destroyed.

Little Charlene was born severely handicapped and never walked, talked or even managed a smile, but still brought so much joy to her close-knit family. Daisy, 40, and husband William, 45, of Alexandria, Dunbartonshire, only found out the horrible truth last month. …

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