Investigation after baby organs incinerated without consent at Cork hospital 3 weeks ago

Investigation after baby organs incinerated without consent at Cork hospital

An inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the incineration is currently underway.

RTÉ Investigates has reported that an investigation is underway at Cork University Maternity Hospital after multiple baby organs were incinerated in Belgium, without the bereaved parents' consent or knowledge.

Advertisement

It is reported that the incinerations occurred on two separate occasions, when the organs of 18 infants were sent abroad with clinical waste.

RTÉ reports that the mortuary staff at the hospital were aware that the burial space for organ interment was full and that cremation was also ruled out. Moreover, attempts to find an alternative plot were "unsuccessful".

The organs remained in storage as a result, and with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, a decision to send the organs of 18 babies abroad was made in order to free up space.

According to HSE standards, when organs are kept for examination at post-mortem, the hospital must support the family and facilitate a sensitive disposal of the remains, either by burial or cremation.

The families of the deceased babies were told in May that the organs had been incinerated last year.

One of the family members affected by the issue, Leona Bermingham, said that she was "shocked" to learn that the organs of her late baby son had already been incinerated.

In a statement issued to RTE, the hospital apologised for the "distressing incident", which they said occurred "under very extenuating and unprecedented circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic."

Advertisement

CUMH has now commissioned an investigation into the incinerations. It is currently at an early stage and is expected to be finalised later this winter.

The Department of Health told RTÉ that the HSE will ensure that all Irish hospitals comply with their standards for issues relating to post-mortem examinations going forward.

This evening, RTÉ Investigates will report on the case on Prime Time at 9:35pm on RTÉ One.