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Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 17:33 GMT
Alder Hey: Reports at a glance
Alder Hey graphic
Fundamental changes will be made
BBC News Online details the key findings of the landmark Alder Hey organ retention report.


At Alder Hey

  • More than 2,000 organs stored without consent
  • Many never used for research purposes

  • Stockpile included whole heads and bodies
  • Van Velzen "systematically" took all organs from all post-mortemed children
  • Report details a series of management failings which could have stopped van Velzen
  • Hospital and Liverpool University failed to deal adequately with parents once scandal broke, says report

Report recommends:

  • Radical changes to consent forms to provide a single national form
  • Failure to adhere to existing regulation on human tissue retention should be made a criminal offence
  • Professor van Velzen should never be allowed to practice in this country again
  • Families who agree to organs and body parts being retained should be invited to prepare a "life book" on their loved one, giving details of the person's life that medical students could be shown in order to ensure that the dead are not treated as "dehumanised objects"
  • New powers for relatives to limit the extent of hospital post mortems to, for instance, specific organs, and to limit what can be retained
  • A nationwide code of practice to set out required standards of communication between hospitals and families about post mortems
  • Changes to the 1961 Human Tissue Act to make clear that parents' consent is needed for many post mortems

The government has accepted the inquiry report in full.

  • Evidence has been sent to both Merseyside Police and the General Medical Council
  • Four staff, including Alder Hey former chief executive have been suspended
  • Acting Alder Hey trust chairman leaves - two other directors resign


National picture

  • Almost 105,000 organs stored nationally - many illegally as they were taken for coroner's post mortems
  • Final tally may be many more, as records and reporting is sketchy
  • A dozen hospitals in the UK each have more than 500 stored organs

Chief Medical Officer's recommendations include:

  • Law changed to enshrine the concept of informed consent
  • New committee to oversee return of organs and tissues to families
  • NHS Direct to provide information to families worried about organ retention
  • A review of management of staff jointly employed by NHS and universities
  • NHS should provide more bereavement advice to families
  • New regulations on deals between pharmaceutical companies and hospitals involving the handing over of organs

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