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Monday, 13 May, 2002, 08:17 GMT 09:17 UK
Fresh fears over organ retention
Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool
Alder Hey says tissue retention was on coroner's orders
A solicitor has called for a change in the law after parents claimed their son's organs were retained at Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool, without their knowledge.

The parents of six-year-old Kieran Peers, who died unexpectedly at the hospital in March 2000, were initially told all of their son's organs were replaced after a coroner's post-mortem examination.

But in a letter sent to the family from Alder Hey last month, they were told "substantial" material, including organs, had been kept by the coroner.

Now the family's solicitor Ian Cohen has said they want the law changed so that the medical authorities treat the bereaved with "clarity and transparency".

Kieran Peers
Some of Kieran Peers' remains were retained
Alder Hey was at the centre of a major scandal in 1999 after it emerged that pathologist Dick van Velzen had hoarded thousands of children's organs at the hospital without consent of parents.

Mr Cohen said: "We are seeking a change in the law.

"It will be for the benefit of the medical profession as well as the families.

"It would make communication with families mandatory, and would restore faith in the pathological process."

In a statement, the hospital said: "A post-mortem involves creating blocks (parts of organs) and slides of tissues for microscopic examination to help determining the cause of death. This was done by order of the coroner.

"The creation of blocks and slides often requires that parts of organs - sometimes whole organs - are removed and kept until after the funeral would normally take place."

Mike Peers, the boy's father, said: "I said I want everything putting back once he's had his post-mortem, anything that doesn't need to be kept, as in, like, small tissue samples for histology - they explained all that to me."

Mr Cohen said: "They (the family) gave explicit consent for samples to be taken on condition that the brain and other tissues and organs would be reunited with the body.And that hasn't occurred here."

The BBC's Clare Smith
"Even coroners are not supposed to keep anything without the parents' knowledge"
See also:

08 Jan 02 | England
New boss at Alder Hey
30 Jan 01 | Health
Parents await 'shocking' report
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