Families 'furious' as report into incineration of baby organs delayed again

Families 'furious' as report into incineration of baby organs delayed again

It comes a year after it emerged that the perinatal organs of 18 babies were sent from Cork University Maternity Hospital to Antwerp for incineration without the consent or knowledge of the babies’ parents. File picture: Larry Cummins

The families affected by the incineration of the perinatal organs of 18 babies have been told that a report on how it occurred will not be provided to them this week as expected.

The mother of one of the babies, Katie Quilligan, said she is “furious” at the further delay in publishing the report. It comes a year after it emerged that the perinatal organs of 18 babies were sent from Cork University Maternity Hospital to Antwerp for incineration without the consent or knowledge of the babies’ parents.

A report following a review of the incidents was initially expected last October or November but was delayed. Families were told in recent weeks that they would receive a copy of the draft report by “mid – late September”.

However, in correspondence sent on Friday afternoon, the families were told: “The hospital has decided to provide the final report to all the families at the same time to prevent a situation whereby some families may become aware of the report indirectly rather than from the hospital. This will occur over the coming weeks.” 

The families have been asked how they wish how to receive the report “such as meeting in person with the hospital to go through the report or by registered post”. The correspondence received on Friday continued: “A meeting can be arranged with you in due course.” 

An apology was also contained in Friday’s correspondence for “the protracted period of time it is taking to complete the review.” 

Cork mother Katie Quilligan told the Irish Examiner: “I am furious as to how we got given a deadline date to be provided with the report, to now say it’s ready but we won’t have it for another few weeks.” 

She said it was yet another setback, adding: 

It has had a serious impact on my mental health.

The families were told in recent months that the review team had sought legal advice on the report before providing it to the families. A protest against the delay in furnishing the families with the report was held at the hospital on June 11 by frustrated parents.

The review got underway in April last year. According to internal correspondence, mortuary staff at CUH became aware early in 2020 that its burial plot in Curraghkippane’s St Mary’s Cemetery was full and the organs could not be buried.

The organs were sent for incineration in late March and early April 2020, to free up space at the morgue because of the possibility of increased deaths at the hospital following the arrival of Covid-19.

The report is expected as a review continues into how organs of two babies were also sent for incineration from University Maternity Hospital Limerick. They were sent to Antwerp the same month the CUMH review got underway.

The revelation that the organs of the two infants born at UMHL were sent for disposal in Antwerp emerged following a review undertaken late last year. In recent months, families affected by the CUMH scandal called for the Human Tissue Bill to be enacted as soon as possible.

When enacted, it is set to provide a legal framework for the storage and disposal of human tissue, including organs used in post-mortem examinations.

The bill was due to have been published at the end of December. However, the Department of Health says the legislation is currently at an advanced stage and will be published “as soon as possible”.

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