Taoiseach condemns ‘cruel and unacceptable’ incineration of baby organs

ireland
Taoiseach Condemns ‘Cruel And Unacceptable’ Incineration Of Baby Organs Taoiseach Condemns ‘Cruel And Unacceptable’ Incineration Of Baby Organs
An investigation is under way at Cork University Maternity Hospital after it emerged the organs of 18 babies were sent to Belgium for incineration. Photo: PA Images.
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The Taoiseach has condemned the incineration of baby organs by a Cork hospital without the knowledge or consent of their bereaved parents.

An investigation is under way at Cork University Maternity Hospital after it emerged the organs of 18 babies were sent to Belgium for incineration in late March and early April 2020, without the knowledge of their bereaved parents.

The hospital has apologised for the events which happened at the start of the pandemic.

Speaking on Tuesday afternoon, Taoiseach Micheál Martin described the incident as “cruel and unacceptable”.

“In my view, that this was done without the... consent or the knowledge of the bereaved parents is cruel and unacceptable, and I certainly would be anxious to facilitate a debate in the house and questions to be asked,” he said.

“I think the Minister (for Health) is seeking assurances from every other site across the country that this did not occur.”

Cork couple

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According to RTÉ, the incident came to light in May of last year when Cork couple Leona Bermingham and Glenn Callanan received a phone call from the hospital regarding their late son, Lee.

The couple later learned that it was their baby’s brain that was incinerated abroad in Antwerp in Belgium.

An RTÉ Investigates report tonight on Prime Time discloses that internal hospital correspondence shows mortuary staff were aware in early 2020 that its burial plot at St Mary’s Cemetery in Curraghkippane was full.

Staff were “unable to secure appropriate burial space for internment of organs” elsewhere and decided cremation was not an option, with the result that baby organs released by the hospital’s pathology department lay in storage in its morgue.

However, space needed to be freed up in the mortuary in March of 2020 with the arrival of the coronavirus and the possibility of increased deaths.

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As a result, a decision was made to send the organs for incineration. In all, organs and tissue from 18 babies were incinerated in Belgium across two days in late March and early April 2020.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can freephone the Samaritans 24 hours a day for confidential support at 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org.

You can also freephone the national Bereavement Support Line run by the HSE and Irish Hospice Foundation at 1800 80 70 77 (Monday-Friday 10am-1pm), and the contact information for a range of mental health supports is available at mentalhealthireland.ie/get-support/.

In the case of an emergency, or if you or someone you know is at risk of suicide or self-harm, dial 999/112.

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