Delay of incinerated baby organ report 'scandalous'

The organs of 18 babies who died at CUMH were sent to Antwerp, Belgium, for incineration in 2020 because its burial plot was full
Delay of incinerated baby organ report 'scandalous'

Bereaved parents of 18 babies whose organs were incinerated in Belgium along with clinical waste, protested outside Cork University Maternity Hospital last month. The protest is to demand the report into the incident is published. Mick Barry was one of the TDs who joined the protest. Photo: Andy Gibson.

The "scandalous delay" in releasing a report on why babies’ organs were sent from Cork and Limerick to Belgium to be incinerated without their parents’ consent has been raised in the Dáil.

The author of the State's 2009 Retained Organs Audit, Michaela Willis, described the delayed publication of the report into the Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) scandal as “incredibly unkind", "unprofessional" and showing a "huge lack of respect", Cork North Central TD Mick Barry said.

The organs of 18 babies who died at CUMH were sent to Antwerp, Belgium, for incineration in 2020 because its burial plot was full.

Last week, the Irish Examiner revealed that the organs of two more babies who were delivered at University Maternity Hospital Limerick in 2019 were also sent for incineration to Belgium without the knowledge of their parents in April 2021.

Ms Willis is decrying the endless delays around the release of the report, Mr Barry said.

“The South/Southwest hospital group [responsible for CUMH] originally said that this report will be released by November 2021. 

Why are these parents having insult added to injury and being left waiting a full eight months after that date? 

"We learned last week that the horrific practice engaged in in Cork was also engaged in by the University Maternity Hospital in Limerick."

He called on the Government to introduce legislation to ensure that such a scandal can never happen again. 

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that he did not know why the report has not been published yet but said that there may be legitimate reasons for the delay. Ongoing assistance is being provided to all impacted families in the meantime, he said.

The problematic post-mortem practices in CUH and CUMH were first identified in an audit there, he said. And since October 2022, the UL Hospitals Group had been found in compliance with national sensitive disposal arrangements standards, Mr Varadkar said.

“I want to express my sympathy on behalf of the government to the families who, having experienced the tragedy of losing a beloved child, had their grief compounded by the fact that organs and tissue of their child were disposed of in an inappropriate manner," he said.

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