Organ doctor under fire

FAMILIES affected by the organ retention scandal have criticised a doctor who admitted keeping organs of stillbirths without consent after 2000.

A Health Service Executive-commissioned report found the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin had 118 organs still awaiting examination between 2000 and 2007 without parental consent.

Dr John Gillan, a consultant pathologist at the maternity hospital, who identified himself as “Consultant A” in the report, said reduced consultant cover for postmortem exam practice meant that he had to work alone for long periods.

“The price of this was that – to maintain the very highest medical standards – we had to cause some parents to wait longer than the 12 months to which they consented,” he said.

The consultant, who undertook almost 90% of autopsies at the hospital between 2000 and 2007, was removed from postmortem services in December 2007.

Parents for Justice spokesperson Charlotte Yeates said it was not good enough for Dr Gillan to say he was acting out of concern for parents.

“If he knew that he was going to have to hold onto the organs for longer than that for which consent was given, he should have contacted the parents,” she said.

“Dr Gillan would have been aware of the terrible hurt caused by organ retention. If he had any consideration for the families involved, he should have contacted them.”

“What he is doing is revisiting grief on parents,” said Ms Yeates who added that the group was inundated with calls yesterday by parents who had organs taken from their children without their consent.

Master of the hospital, Dr Sam Coulter-Smith, said they wanted to contact parents in relation to 138 postmortems exams carried out between 2000 and 2007.

Dr Coulter-Smith said they would respectfully bury the retained organs or tissue within six months if the hospital did not receive any contact from the parent.

HSE national enquiry line is 1800 670 700.

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