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Last Updated: Monday, 20 June, 2005, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Organ scandal doctor struck off
Dr Dick van Velzen
Dr Van Velzen was struck off the UK medical register
A pathologist who ordered the removal of organs from the bodies of dead children has been found guilty of serious professional misconduct.

Professor Dick van Velzen, 56, worked at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool at the height of the organ retention scandal from 1988 to 1994.

The General Medical Council (GMC), sitting in Manchester, ordered that he be struck off the UK medical register.

The doctor, from Oegstgeest in Holland, was not present at the hearing.

[He] has damaged the medical processional as a whole
GMC Chairman Ian Chisholm

He chose not to attend the three-week tribunal hearing and did not send any legal representation to be present on his behalf.

When the hearing started, he told representatives from the GMC he did not wish to know anything about the proceedings.

The GMC's Fitness to Practise Panel said last Thursday that it found almost all the charges against Professor van Velzen proved.

Chair Ian Chisholm said Professor van Velzen had retained organs without permission and effectively lied to the parents of dead youngsters.

"He practised out of the boundary and he was out of touch with people's feelings.

'Violated trust'

"It was a violation of children's bodies.

"He has undermined trust placed in medical practitioners to such an extent it has damaged the medical processional as a whole.

"His reckless conduct has caused great distress to the parents of the children that were involved.

"The parents of children who died trusted Professor van Velzen to care for and respect the remains of their loved ones.

"Professor van Velzen violated that trust."

'Filthy' cellar

Earlier in the hearing, the panel had been told how he took the organs without the consent of the childrens' parents.

More than 2,000 pots containing body parts from some 850 infants were found at the hospital during an investigation.

Andrew Collender QC, counsel for the GMC, said Professor van Velzen had caused the parents of the children whose organs he removed "considerable and understandable distress".

Paul Dearlove, a former laboratory officer at Alder Hey, told the panel he kept pots of body parts in a "filthy" cellar.

The GMC panel found 46 out of the 48 charges against Professor van Velzen proved.

It found he failed to complete post-mortem examination reports within a "proper and reasonable time".

It also found that he sometimes claimed to have examined organs more thoroughly than he did and determined the causes of death without doing enough research.

The GMC must now decide whether to allow him 28 days to lodge an appeal or to strike him off immediately.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See archive footage of Professor Dick van Velzen



SEE ALSO:
Doctor 'removed organs' says GMC
16 Jun 05 |  Merseyside
Doctor 'stored organs in cellar'
08 Jun 05 |  Merseyside
Pathologist 'kept boy's organs'
07 Jun 05 |  Merseyside
Doctor 'ordered organ retention'
06 Jun 05 |  Merseyside


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