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Last Updated: Monday, 16 August, 2004, 17:07 GMT 18:07 UK
AM's anguish over dead baby sample
Jocelyn Davies AM
Mrs Davies said she can understand why families involved feel there is no justice
A Welsh assembly member has discovered tissue samples from her daughter, who was stillborn 16 years ago, are being held in a Newport hospital.

Plaid Cymru AM Jocelyn Davies's daughter Louise was stillborn at the Royal Gwent Hospital in 1988.

Mrs Davies, 45, decided to investigate after taking up a constituent's case but says now she "wished she had never asked" about her own daughter.

The hospital trust says it acted according to NHS practice at the time.

The samples were taken following a post mortem examination which Mrs Davies and her husband, Newbridge councillor Mike Davies, had agreed could be carried out on their daughter.

"When the reply came back it was a complete surprise because we didn't expect the hospital to have kept anything.

"We thought it would be just a routine check. Now they have asked us what we want to do with the samples, but because our daughter was cremated, we can't bury them. We just don't know what to do."

Mrs Davies, South Wales East AM, had made her inquiries through a fellow AM to avoid a conflict of interest - after taking up the case of constituent Shaun McGuire.

Mr McGuire was angry after he found samples were retained when his son Brendan died aged 36 hours in 1974.

Mrs Davies, who has a son from her first marriage and two younger daughters with her husband, said she could not understand why the samples were being kept.

Royal Gwent Hospital
The health trust does not "underestimate the emotional impact" on families

"It can't be for research purposes because the post-mortem revealed there were no abnormalities with Louise, as is often the case with stillbirths," she said.

"They told me that as far as they could tell they haven't kept any body parts, but they cannot give a categorical assurance without checking the archive in person.

"It has brought it all back to us after nearly 16 years, and you just don't trust anybody.

"I can understand why a family involved in such a situation feel there is no justice.

"I wished I had never asked - that is how it is making me feel now."

She said there must be hundreds of other familes who are in a similar situation to herself.

"Our case is not an exception. For us it was a tragedy but for them it was routine."

Families have been kept much more closely informed about their dead children's body parts since the report into organ retention scanda; at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool.

In relation to Mr and Mrs Davies' daughter, a spokesman for the Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust said: "We acted in accordance with the usual NHS practice at the time, and since the publication of the Alder Hey report we have strictly followed guidance by the assembly.

"However, we do not underestimate the emotional impact felt by any family involved and will continue to offer any help and support we can."




SEE ALSO:
Organ scandal babies are buried
05 Aug 04  |  Merseyside
Support line for bereaved parents
29 Mar 04  |  Bristol/Somerset
Organs row parents can sue
26 Mar 04  |  Health


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