Families claim they first learned of babies' organ incineration from RTÉ

In a joint statement issued last month, CUMH and the HSE said the 18 affected families were informed that their children’s organs had been incinerated last year. However, families have disputed this.
Families claim they first learned of babies' organ incineration from RTÉ

A number of families have come forward to say the first time they learned of the incineration of their babies organs was from an RTÉ Investigates report.

In September, RTÉ Investigates aired a report revealing the story of Cork couple, Leona Bermingham and Glenn Callanan, who spoke of their horror at discovering the brain of their deceased baby son had been incinerated without their knowledge or consent.

Their baby was just one of 18 whose organs were sent along with clinical waste for incineration in Belgium on two occasions last year by Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH).

In a joint statement issued last month, CUMH and the HSE said the 18 affected families were informed that their children’s organs had been incinerated last year. However, families have disputed this.

Speaking to RTÉ, Katie Quilligan, whose baby son James died at 24 weeks at CUMH, said she only learned that his organs had been incinerated in Belgium from social media postings about the RTÉ Investigates report.

She said she received a call on September 27th, a day before the report from RTÉ Investigates, from a staff member at CUMH, who told her that a story would soon emerge about 18 babies who had died at the hospital.

In a statement to RTÉ Investigates, the South/South West Hospital Group, Cork University Hospital and CUMH reiterated their apology to all 18 families. The statement added it is not HSE policy to comment on individual cases, but stated the phone calls made to affected families last year were made by experienced clinical bereavement specialists who “categorically confirm that all families were informed incineration of the organs had occurred, and that this was not what the service had given them to expect would happen, which was for the organs to have been buried.”

RTÉ said the statement conceded that families were not told during these calls where the incinerations took place.

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