Baby's body left in hospital room for four weeks

One of the country’s maternity hospitals has had to apologise after it emerged that a baby’s body was left stored in a room for four weeks, despite the mother being informed that he would be buried one week after his death, writes Noel Baker.

It also emerged that the mother of baby Eoin was told she could not attend his burial for what Letterkenny General Hospital said was “for private and confidential reasons”.

Eoin was born in October last year during the second trimester of his mother’s pregnancy. However, he died in the womb as a result of complications arising from a rare condition known as Turner’s syndrome.

His mother Lisa, who did not give her second name, told the This Week programme on RTÉ Radio 1 that while she had been told that Eoin would be buried a week after his birth, she later found out that her child’s body was left stored in a room in Letterkenny hospital for four weeks.

It also emerged that a member of staff told Lisa that Eoin’s body had been placed in the mortuary during the four-week period after delivery, when his body had been left in a room in the gynaecology ward.

A letter from the hospital to Lisa admitted that she and her partner were misled by a member of staff as to where the body was stored and apologised for the “deep hurt and distress which had been caused to both of you when [staff member] told you that your baby had not been buried and led you to believe your baby was in the mortuary when this was not the case”.

The letter also stated: “We are sorry that you were failed by Letterkenny University Hospital in relation to the burial of your son, Eoin, and that this was not carried out in the timescale and manner agreed with you. Unfortunately and sadly we cannot change that. We can and will, however, ensure that baby Eoin’s legacy will be that this does not ever happen again.”

Lisa told RTÉ she was “infuriated” by the response.

“My child had to lie for four weeks for them to open their eyes to this,” she said.

“I don’t understand how anyone could leave a human being, a baby, lying in a room for four weeks.”

She has now called for parents to be allowed attend burials in angels’ plots for miscarried babies, and pre-term babies who die in the womb, and to know where exactly their children’s bodies are buried.

“I don’t think anybody should have to go through that and I just pray and hope to God that this never happens again,” she said.

The hospital said it has revised its systems while the HSE said it published the National Standards for Bereavement Care following Pregnancy Loss and Perinatal Death last August. However, Lisa told RTÉ the document did not address the issues she experienced.

This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner.


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