FAMILIES of infants who died and whose organs were sent from Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) to be incinerated overseas without the consent or knowledge of bereaved parents say their grieving process has been impacted by continued delays in the publication of a report on how it occurred.
Last year RTÉ Investigates revealed that the organs of 18 babies had been sent from CUMH to Belgium in 2020 along with clinical waste.
A review of the incidents was initially expected to be completed last October or November but was delayed. Last month, families were informed that they would receive a copy of the draft report following the review by “mid-late September”.
However, in a subsequent update last month they were told: “The hospital has decided to provide the final report to all the families at the same time to prevent a situation whereby some families may become aware of the report indirectly rather than from the hospital. This will occur over the coming weeks.”
The families were asked how they would like to receive the report “such as meeting in person with the hospital to go through the report or by registered post”.
There was also an apology in the email, for “the protracted period of time it is taking to complete the review.”
Speaking to The Echo, a member of The Voice of Our Angels, a group of some of the impacted families, said the ongoing delays in furnishing the families with the report is causing significant distress.
“We can’t grieve. We thought we grieved our kids until this scandal came out, now we have to grieve our kids again, but we can’t do that because we don’t know how this happened or why it happened,” they said.
The group member said that all families in their group have responded stating how they would like to receive the report, but no date has been given.
Meanwhile Sinn Féin TD for Cork South Central, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire criticised the ongoing delays in issuing the report as “shocking and completely unacceptable.” Mr Ó Laoghaire said what happened at the hospital caused “untold hurt to the families involved”.
Mr Ó Laoghaire said the families involved have faced “delay after delay in having the report of the review team provided to them”.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the South/South West Hospital Group said: “The external review is ongoing. The review team has and continues to maintain regular contact with the families who participated in the review.
“Once completed the final report will be shared with all relevant stakeholders including the families involved.”