Cork mum vows to continue fight for answers after baby boy’s organs incinerated

Cork mum vows to continue fight for answers after baby boy’s organs incinerated

Leona Bermingham and Glenn Callanan twins were delivered at 33 weeks, on 18 September 2019, by emergency c-section. Baby Lee passed away hours later. Picture: RTÉ

CORK mum Leona Bermingham has vowed to continue her fight for answers as she seeks to find out to why her deceased son’s brain was incinerated in Belgium, without her consent.

Lee died on September 18, 2019, hours after Leona had given birth to him and his twin brother Lewis at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) by emergency caesarean section.

A post-mortem examination was held into his death.

An investigation is now underway after Leona and her partner Glenn Callanan discovered that the brain of their baby son, Lee, was incinerated in Antwerp instead of being buried or cremated.

Seventeen other families are in a similar situation as their children’s organs were also sent for incineration to Belgium.

The Cork mother told Neil Prendeville on RedFM that she and her partner Glenn have a series of questions to which they want answers.

“We have done the right thing in speaking out,” she said.

“We are doing it for our two boys. Knowing we are helping people and being Lee’s voice.

“I want to make sure they are proud of us and that Lewis has all the answers.

“I need answers. How did it happen? Why did it happen? Who signed off on it? Why out of the country?

“We want closure. By going public, we will put pressure on the hospital. We need to see the findings.”

Ms Bermingham said they want to make people aware their son was beautiful.

“I want people to know he had a name and he was beautiful. I want people to realise that he was a baby that was born alive.

“There is someone behind these organs that we speak about,” she added.

An apology has now been made to Leona and Glenn, as well as the 17 other families whose children’s organs were also sent for incineration to Belgium.

“The South/South West Hospital Group, CUH and CUMH have apologised to 18 families whose perinatal organs that has been retained by the hospital were sent for incineration instead of being buried or cremated as had been agreed to by all of the parents prior to a post mortem,” said a statement issued on behalf of the South/South West Hospital Group.

“The Group deeply regret that this distressing incident occurred and acknowledge that a serious error was made, and are truly sorry for the additional distress this has caused to grieving families.”

In May 2020, an external expert review of the incident was commissioned and, it is expected, will be completed in late October/early November.

The South/South West Hospital Group said the review’s findings and recommendations will be shared with the families affected and then with the wider HSE.

"The South/ South West Hospital Group and CUH deeply regret that this distressing incident occurred and acknowledge that a serious error was made, and are truly sorry for the additional distress this has caused to grieving families.

"Since becoming aware of the issue, all parents affected have been informed; the error has been acknowledged and a sincere apology has been offered. The parents have been and will continue to be offered on going contact, care and support."

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