Page last updated at 09:49 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010

Final burial after Alder Hey organ scandal

Alder Hey
Thousands of body parts were held by the hospital

A burial service for the final human remains held by Alder Hey Children's Hospital will take place next week.

Tissue samples and foetuses which have gone unclaimed by relatives after the organ retention scandal will be buried in Liverpool on 29 January.

The interment will be followed by a memorial service in February and the dedication of a memorial garden.

It is now more than 10 years since it emerged the hospital had removed organs from dead babies without permission.

Body parts, some of which were also obtained by other hospitals, were then held for medical research.

Burial services for unclaimed remains have been taking place weekly since May 2009 at Allerton Cemetery, where the memorial garden was established.

It breaks my heart that these children will have their funeral without their families
Paula O'Leary, Alder Hey support group

Paula O'Leary, of the Alder Hey parents' support group PITY II, said she believed some parents were unaware of the extent of the scandal.

Her 11-month-old son Andrew had his heart and 36 other body parts taken following his death from a brain haemorrhage in 1981.

Mrs O'Leary, 50, from Bootle, Merseyside, said: "This happened for many years at different hospitals and people simply don't know that their child could be involved.

"It breaks my heart that these children will have their funeral without their families, but it is about time they were treated with dignity and given a burial."

'Final part'

A spokeswoman for Alder Hey said: "Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Liverpool are to complete the respectful interment of unclaimed retained organs, foetuses and tissue samples held in their possession in a final burial ceremony on 29 January.

"This is the final part of a process developed by the trust and the university over the last few years and which is compliant with the Human Tissue Authority's Code of Practice on disposal.

"Those parents who have had organ retention confirmed, but who took no further action at that time, are advised to contact the helpline and inquiry service if they have any concerns or questions about the burial process."

Adrian McNeil, chief executive of the Human Tissue Authority said had changed in the 10 years since the events at Alder Hey.

"The public should be confident that consent is central to the regulatory framework we have created and that human tissue is being taken, used and disposed of ethically and respectfully."

The memorial service will take place at All Souls Church, Mather Avenue, Allerton, on 26 February followed by a dedication ceremony for the Memorial Garden at Allerton Cemetery.

The official Redfern Report into the organ scandal was published in 2001.

It stated Dutch pathologist Dick van Velzen ordered the stripping of organs from children who underwent a post-mortem examination during his time at the hospital, between 1988 and 1995.

He was struck off the UK medical register by the General Medical Council in 2005.

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