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Alder Hey parent Jan Robinson
"It has been absolutely devastating"
 real 28k

Alder Hey parent Paula O'Leary
"I am bitterly angry about having to watch my family go through this."
 real 28k

Friday, 3 December, 1999, 13:14 GMT
Organ stripping: The reaction
Organ Organs were taken without parental consent

Revelations that entire organ systems were stripped from children who died at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Merseyside without parental consent have provoked strong reactions.

Jan Robinson's four-month-old son Michael died at Alder Hey Hospital 10 years ago from congenital heart disease.

Only recently has she found out that seven of Michael's organs were retained after his death.

"You presume, perhaps naively, that the whole of your son has been given back to you, and we have learned after 10 and a half years that unfortunately that was not the case.

"It has been absolutely devastating. We cannot understand at all why that was allowed to happen, how they can actually do this without informing parents, without giving them the choice as to whether or not they want to have their child's organs retained."

Mrs Robinson said she had received a letter from the hospital apologising for the distress caused, but had not received an apology for the way her son's organs were stripped from his body.

She said: "It has been very hard work trying to find out any information at all.

"There are people there who were in authority at Alder Hey during that time who must have known that this was happening, but they are giving us the impression that there was nobody there who knew. I find that very hard to believe."

Heart and lungs retained

Paula O'Leary's son Carl died at Alder Hey Hospital 27 years ago. His heart and lungs were retained by the hospital.

Ms O'Leary said the family had been forced to arrange another funeral for her son.

She said: "The family is still in grief, shock and trauma.

"I am bitterly angry about having to watch my family go through this.

"I speak to many mums, and I feel their anger, feel their trauma, feel their despair."

Ms O'Leary said the hospital had told her the organs were preserved in formalin to help young doctors in their training.

'Absolutely outrageous'

Andre Rebello Andre Rebello is to investigate events at Alder Hey
Liverpool City Coroner Andre Rebello said the activities at Alder Hey were "absolutely outrageous".

Mr Rebello said no inquest had taken place in any case that he had studied, and therefore there was no authority for tissue samples or organs to be taken.

He said: "If these parents have not given consent there has clearly been breaches of the human tissues act.

"Quite clearly these families need unlimited support and care and these reprehensible acts must be investigated. Answers must be given in each specific case."

Mr Rebello said he would be seeking confirmation that organs were not taken solely for research purposes.

He said: "I would hope that pathologists are not behaving as modern day Burke and Hares.
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See also:
03 Dec 99 |  Health
Children's organs 'stripped wholesale'
03 Dec 99 |  Health
Organ removal: the legal background
07 Oct 99 |  Health
Child organ stockpile prompts inquiry
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