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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 June, 2005, 20:41 GMT 21:41 UK
Pathologist 'kept boy's organs'
Dr Dick van Velzen
Dr van Velzen failed to turn up for the hearing
A pathologist carried out a full post-mortem examination on the body of a teenager without his parents' consent, a medical tribunal has heard.

Professor Dick van Velzen, 55, worked at Liverpool's Alder Hey Children's Hospital at the height of the organ retention scandal from 1988 to 1994.

He failed to appear before the General Medical Council (GMC) in Manchester.

The GMC heard he carried out an "extensive" examination and kept parts of the boy's organs in the hospital.

Lung biopsy

Van Velzen, from Oegstgeest in Holland, was due to appear before the GMC's Fitness to Practise panel, but sent no legal representatives to enter a plea on his behalf.

The tribunal heard how the teenager's parents, known only as Mr and Mrs D, sent letters of complaint to the hospital over the post-mortem examination.

The teenager, known as Child CD, died at Alder Hey on 7 December 1993, and his parents agreed to a limited post-mortem examination, including a biopsy of his lung, but no more.

Mrs D feels her wishes were not taken into account
Hilary Rowland
The following day Prof van Velzen carried out a full examination and retained sections of the teenager's body at the hospital, the GMC was told.

In May 1994, Mrs D wrote to the hospital's chief executive, Hilary Rowland, to complain.

Mrs Rowland then began an inquiry into the claims, and sent a letter to several clinicians at the hospital, including Prof van Velzen.

The letter read: "Mrs D claims that Prof van Velzen took it upon himself to look at other organs.

"Mr and Mrs D say they did not give permission for this and that this has caused them extreme distress. Mrs D feels her wishes were not taken into account."

'Seriously inaccurate'

Prof van Velzen replied in July 1994, saying no post-mortem examination was carried out "in the classic sense".

He claimed he made an incision of "no more than 7cm" and claimed child CD was buried with all his organs in place.

Andrew Collender QC, speaking on behalf of the GMC, said the letter was "materially and seriously inaccurate".

If found guilty of professional misconduct, he could face a ban from practising.

'Deep depression'

The hearing also heard the doctor caused a couple deep depression when he took organs from their dead twin babies.

The twins' father said they only discovered this nearly nine years after their deaths.

"We were both extremely upset and realised we would have to start the grieving process again. It caused us deep depression."

The tribunal continues.

Why mystery surrounds Prof. van Velzen's whereabouts

Doctor 'ordered organ retention'
06 Jun 05 |  Merseyside
Alder Hey doctor cleared by GMC
17 Dec 03 |  Health

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