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Last Updated: Friday, 16 May, 2003, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
Hospital 'bartered child's gland'
Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Liverpool

Scandal-hit Alder Hey Children's Hospital may have exchanged a child's body part for medical equipment, it has been revealed.

The Liverpool hospital admitted the possibility in a letter read out to the High Court, sitting in London, on Friday.

The hospital - which was at the centre of the organ retention scandal - removed Amy Enright's thymus gland when it treated her for a defective heart.

The revelation came out during a case in which the five-year-old's mother, Ann, from Fleetwood, Lancashire, was told she was due compensation for her child's "wrongful birth".

An error by Fleetwood GP Dr Tse Sak Kwun in recording her age as 27, rather than 37, may have caused a failure to advise her of the risk that Amy may be born with Down's syndrome, the judge ruled.

The letter [from Alder Hey] mentioned that the thymus may have been exchanged for hospital equipment with a pharmaceutical company
Ann Enright

The risk of Down's syndrome is one in 250 or less at 37 while in the late 20s it is one in a thousand.

Mr Justice Morland said that, while Amy was now a much-loved member of the family, her upbringing had caused her parents psychological stress.

'Now or never'

Finding out that her thymus had been "commercially bartered or sold" had been the "final straw" which led them to launch their claim.

In a statement read out in court, Mrs Enright said: "The letter [from Alder Hey] mentioned that the thymus may have been exchanged for hospital equipment with a pharmaceutical company or disposed of but that there was no record on Amy's file as to what had actually happened in her particular case.

"It was a case of now or never and we decided to take action."

The judge ruled in favour of Mrs Enright and her husband Mark who said they had not been warned of the increased risk of Amy being born with Down's syndrome.

The mother-of-three, who had undergone an amniocentesis during her first pregnancy to test the risk of genetic disorders, received no advice about possible screening, he said.

Mr Justice Morland said Dr Kwun, of Waverley Avenue, Fleetwood, and Blackpool Victoria NHS Trust were guilty of this failure.

The amount of damages will be assessed at a later date.

The Royal Liverpool Children's NHS Trust, which runs Alder Hey Hospital, said it had begun an inquiry into the revelations.

It added that it could not comment on individual cases but would inform the parents if any further information was discovered.




SEE ALSO:
Hotline for Alder Hey youngsters
22 Mar 03  |  England
Public apology for organ scandal
27 Feb 03  |  England
Organ scandal families accept 5m
31 Jan 03  |  England


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