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Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
Inquiry call over child organ retention
Shaun McGuire tends his son's grave in Newport
The McGuires are planning a second funeral
A bereaved father is calling for an inquiry into post mortem examinations on children, and organ retention, at a south Wales hospital.

Shaun McGuire's son Brendan died at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport the day after he was born in 1974.

Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport
The boy died at Royal Gwent Hospital

Mr McGuire, from Newport, claimed he was given conflicting information as to whether or not a post mortem examination had been carried out on his son.

But he is now angry after learning that tests had been carried out on the body of his son and tissue samples retained.

A statement from the Gwent Healthcare NHS trust has said that "reporting and monitoring procedures are very different now", and that "families are much more closely involved than they were 28 years ago".

The family is now planning a second funeral for the dead child on Thursday.

Tragic death

Brendan Sean McGuire was born on 29 May 1974 at the former Lydia Beynon Maternity Home, Newport, now the site of the Celtic Manor resort.

He was born with a ruptured abdomen and was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital for treatment.

Shaun McGuire
Shaun McGuire consented to a post-mortem examination

Despite the attempts of surgeons to operate, the baby boy died the following day.

Mr McGuire claims he was pressurised into signing a form consenting to a post-mortem examination.

"They said if you sign this form, it may help another child," he said.

"So I just signed on the dotted line."

Repeated assurances

In December 1999 Mr McGuire read a newspaper article following revelations that a number of British hospitals had retained the organs of dead children.

It included a statement by Gwent Healthcare Trust that none of their hospitals had ever even carried out post-mortem examinations.

Newspaper article in which Gwent Healthcare trust denied organ retention
Press articles prompted the family's concern

Mr McGuire said he contacted them to clarify the situation regarding his son, and a representative visited his home to assure the family that no examination or sample retention had taken place.

But following further articles and further inquiries this year, Mr McGuire said the trust has now written to confirm that it had found evidence of such an examination being carried out on his son.

"The biggest shock of all was the fact that they kept tissue samples," he said.

"In fact my wife works at the hospital and probably each day she was walking past a room which parts of my son were in."

Trust statement

Earlier in May it was revealed that organs from the bodies of more than 30 children had been retained at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool without their parents' knowledge following post mortem examinations in 2000.

The retentions happened months after the hospital - condemned by a government inquiry last year for keeping thousands of organs - said it had suspended the practice.

On Tuesday, a statement from the Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust said that all available information to the death of Mr McGuire's son in 1974 had been given to him.

"Following publication of the Alder Hey Report, the careful scrutiny of cases such as this with the Welsh Assembly Government has improved our investigative processes," read the statement.

"Reporting and monitoring procedures in our hospitals are very different now and families are much more closely involved with the arrangements following the death of a loved one than they were 28 years ago."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales's Susie Phillips
"It is 28 years since baby Brendan died"
See also:

26 Jan 01 | Health
08 Jan 02 | England
30 Jan 01 | Health
24 Mar 00 | Wales
16 Aug 00 | Wales
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