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Friday, 17 December, 1999, 18:31 GMT
Details given on organ removal inquiry

milburn Alan Milburn announces details of inquiry

The government has announced details of an inquiry set up to investigate the removal of organs from patients' bodies at Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Liverpool.

As secretary of state for health Alan Milburn made the announcement, another medical centre - Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery - confirmed it has retained some brains and spinal cords from patients who underwent post mortems.

Mr Milburn said the inquiry at Alder Hey, triggered by demands from angry relatives of children whose organs were removed without their consent, would look at the practice and establish whether the Human Tissue Act has been complied with.

The inquiry will look specifically at what happened in Alder Hey Children's Hospital, to identify lessons to be learned
Alan Milburn, secretary of state for health
It will also look at the information, or lack of, given to parents and relatives and the role of the NHS and other bodies in the scandal.

The inquiry team, to be headed by Michael Redfern QC, a specialist in clinical negligence and a court recorder on the northern circuit, is due to report back to Mr Milburn by March next year.


A BBC survey has shown that seven of the 10 biggest NHS trusts in England were removing organs or samples from children's bodies without their parents' consent until very recently.

Reacting to the news that the Walton centre has taken brain and spinal samples, chief medical officer Professor Liam Donaldson said he would take this into consideration during his review of the practice nationally.

He said: "When my investigations are concluded I will be using the findings together with the outcome of the Alder Hey inquiry, as well as an interim report from the Bristol Inquiry, to draw up comprehensive advice for the Secretary of State for Health on this whole subject."

He also intends to report to Mr Milburn by March.

Mr Milburn said: "The inquiry will look specifically at what happened in Alder Hey Children's Hospital, to identify lessons to be learned and make recommendations to me about what further actions are necessary to reform organ retention practices at the hospital and to support the families affected."

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See also:
03 Dec 99 |  Health
Organ removal: the legal background
04 Dec 99 |  Health
Doctor's 'life of helping children'
03 Dec 99 |  Health
Organ stripping: The reaction
05 Dec 99 |  Health
Child-organ surgeon 'warned of time-bomb'

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