Baby bonnets on bodies hid post-mortem scars

MANY grieving parents received the body of their baby for burial wearing a little crocheted bonnet, which they were told not to take off.

They couldn’t have imagined the bonnet hid the scars of post-mortem surgery which removed part, if not most, of their dead child’s brain in order to get the pituitary gland.

Tim and Margaret Keating, from Ballincollig, Co Cork, were among the parents who began receiving letters late last week to confirm their child’s gland was removed and passed on to Pharmacia Ireland for use in the manufacture of growth hormones.

Their toddler daughter, Caroline, was just days short of her second birthday when she died unexpectedly from a post-operative infection at Dublin's Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in 1982.

Caroline had been operated on for a heart murmur seven weeks earlier.

The fatal infection attacked her surgical wound.

There was no reason for the Keatings to think, when they agreed to a post mortem examination, that anyone would interfere with their little girl’s brain.

“Our reaction to this was shock and horror and disbelief. No way were we ever given any idea that this was going to happen or had happened,” said Margaret, who was reluctant to have the post mortem done.

“It seems that every organ they looked at, they kept. As far as we are concerned, they plundered her body,” said Tim, who is upset he persuaded Margaret to allow the hospital to carry out the post mortem in the belief it was the proper thing to do for their daughter.

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