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The Bristol heart babies Monday, 18 October, 1999, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Bristol mother 'devastated' by organ retention
Bristol Royal Infirmary
The inquiry centres on heart surgery at Bristol Royal Infirmary
A mother has told how the discovery that the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) had kept 40 tissue samples from her baby daughter's organs following the child's death left her feeling devastated.

The Bristol Heart Babies
Diana Hill was giving evidence about the death of her 10-month-old daughter Jessica to the public inquiry into heart surgery at the BRI.

Earlier lawyers representing hundreds of families asked for key figures to be recalled to answer further questions about organ retention at the hospital.

Mrs Hill learned that 40 pieces of her daughter's organs had been preserved when she and her husband Steve Parker went to the hospital in August this year to check that heart and brain samples that the hospital had agreed to return belonged to Jessica.

Jessica died in 1989 after an operation by surgeon Mr Janardan Dhasmana to correct a hole in her heart.

'I couldn't believe it'

Mrs Hill told the inquiry: "I was just devastated. I don't even know what organs they were taken from.

"They told me: 'I'm sorry but there's been a mistake and 40 pieces of tissue have been retained'.

"I could not believe what they were telling me. We were sent a letter in March telling us about the heart and brain samples so why was this not mentioned then?"

"They said we cannot have them back because they were part of patients' records."

Earlier Richard Lissack QC, representing the Bristol Children's Heart Action Group, said four senior members of the United Bristol Healthcare Trust (UBHT) should be brought back to the inquiry to answer further questions.

He told the inquiry two parents, including Mrs Hill, had been told parts of their children's organs had been retained by the hospital in the form of samples on slides or other specimens.

Mr Lissack said in the case of one child the trust had admitted there were 53 pieces of the child's organs still in the trust's possession and in Jessica Hill's case, 41.

Inquiry chairman Professor Ian Kennedy said the panel will consider Mr Lissack's request and report back later this week or early next week.

Expert tried to stop operation

Later Professor Gianni Angelini, the British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiac Surgery at Bristol University, told the inquiry he tried to stop an operation on 18-month-old Joshua Loveday.

Joshua died on the operating table in January 1995 as surgeon Janardan Dhasmana was performing a "switch" procedure on his tiny heart because his arteries were the wrong way round.

The operation was the last by Mr Dhasmana before the investigation began into child heart surgery at the hospital.

Professor Angelini said concerns about the high mortality rates among patients and the pressure on Mr Dhasmana meant the operation should never have taken place.

He said he appealed to the medical director of the United Bristol Healthcare Trust, Mr James Wisheart, and the chief executive of the UBHT Dr John Roylance, to step in but they refused and sanctioned the operation.

He said he was deliberately excluded from a key meeting to decide whether it should proceed.

See also:

21 Sep 99 | The Bristol heart babies
21 Sep 99 | The Bristol heart babies
23 Sep 99 | The Bristol heart babies
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