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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 August, 2004, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Organ scandal babies are buried
Alder Hey Funeral
The remains are of stillborn babies and foetuses from before 1980
The funerals of the first unidentified babies whose remains were found during the organ retention scandal at Alder Hey Hospital have taken place.

The bodies are mainly those of stillborn babies and foetal tissue samples predating 1980, the Liverpool hospital said.

Their remains were buried in numbered oak caskets during a multi-faith service at Allerton Cemetery.

Chaplain Dr Ian Lovett said it was "a day filled with emotion and sadness."

Inside the caskets, the babies were dressed in white or lemon gowns and were covered in "blankets of love".

About 50 people attended the 15-minute service at the cemetery's "Baby Garden" at 1100 BST on Thursday.

The moment I found out about these unidentified babies, it just broke my heart
Paula O'Leary, Pity II
They watched as the final casket was placed inside the grave.

The Rev Dr Ian Lovett told the mourners: "We recognise the depth of sorrow and sadness that occurred at the time of the death of these babies.

"Our prayer is that healing love would surround, support and uphold all those who were affected by their death.

"May our gathering here today, for this event, bring about a fitting conclusion to this time of uncertainty and pain."

A series of services will eventually be carried out for up to 1,000 unidentified babies.

Alder Hey babies
About 50 people attended the service

Paula O'Leary, co-founder of the support group for people affected by organ retention, Pity II, attended the service and says she will attend each one in the future.

Her 11-month-old son Andrew had his organs removed following his death in 1981.

She said: "The moment I found out about these unidentified babies, it just broke my heart.

"I knew straightaway that we had to get them out of the hospital and into a cemetery, where they should have been in the first place.

'Baby Garden'

"We've had to fight all the way but I couldn't rest until these babies were given the dignity they deserve.

"I will be here every week for as long as it takes, because someone has to be here for them."

The remains had been stored at the children's hospital and the Institute of Child Health at the University of Liverpool for more than 20 years.

In a joint statement last month, Cheshire and Merseyside Strategic Health Authority, the University of Liverpool and the Royal Liverpool Children's Hospital Alder Hey said land had been donated by the local authority for the burial.

The organ retention scandal at the hospital emerged in 1999 when it was discovered 170 hearts had been removed from babies during post-mortem examinations without parental consent.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Kevin Bocquet
"They had no names, not even a hospital number"



SEE ALSO:
Organ scandal baby remains buried
26 Jul 04  |  Merseyside
Support line for bereaved parents
29 Mar 04  |  Bristol/Somerset
Organs row parents can sue
26 Mar 04  |  Health
Organ removal condemned in court
26 Jan 04  |  Health


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