Posted by: irishdad | July 29, 2009

Organ retention – report and debate

In a break from recounting my tale of woe, here are some recent letters to the Irish Times regarding Ireland’s organ retention scandal, about which a report has recently been published.

While not directly affected by this issue – thanks to the relatively prompt operation of our little girl’s post-mortem and return of materials –  I can imagine how much additional pain this terrible behaviour has caused among parents and relatives.

All we ever seem to do in Ireland is commission lengthy reports about how badly things have been done in the past. No-one ever gets fired or takes responsibility. At least in this case the Rotunda have put their hands up and admitted their error.

Hopefully this issue will now be tackled and we’ll only then have to worry about Nama, the economy, the HSE, Children’s hospitals, Cystic fibrosis treatment, crumbing schools and a political class who couldn’t run a chicken raffle if they had a box of chickens and a book of raffle tickets.

On July 27th the following letter was published:

Madam, – It would be helpful to understand precisely what the HSE hopes to achieve by inviting families to retrieve organs from the Rotunda Hospital for burial. Where this has happened previously the result for those affected was a mix of sadness, a renewed sense of bereavement and real or, in some cases, wildly exaggerated grief. For everyone else the net effect was to curb the enthusiasm of those who would otherwise be prepared to sign on to the organ donor register for fear of later misuse of their donated organs by the medical profession.

Although the HSE has also criticised the Rotunda for cremating body parts without notification or apparent permission, in reality this would have been a better course of action to take rather than invite the inevitable spectacle of wailing relatives ceremoniously interring a small box containing some insignificant body part which nobody could argue ever had a life of its own.

– Yours, etc,

PETER COGHLAN, Broadstone, Dorset, England.

Today the following replies appeared.

Madam, – Peter Coughlan wonders (July 27th) what the HSE hopes to achieve by returning “insignificant body parts” to the “wailing relatives” of deceased adults and children.

As the parent of a recently deceased newborn child who just last week received word that her organs are available for burial (thankfully after minimal delay), I can confirm that this news does indeed bring a renewed sense of bereavement. I must insist, however, that every single hair on her head, never mind her organs, are of utmost significance to me and all who loved her. To suggest that the small but precious remains of loved ones should simply be disposed of without consultation is highly insensitive.

While expressions of grief may make Mr Coughlan uncomfortable, I cannot see why parents and relatives should be denied the right to decide on the course of action that suits them best. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Madam, – Peter Coghlan’s letter (July 27th) has left me with a sense of numbness, and disbelief that someone can write so clinically on a subject that they seem to know nothing about. As a father who buried his infant son a little over a year ago, may I say that his description of private personal tragedies which occur in life seems brutal, dismissive and unnecessary.

The primary wrongdoing by the doctors and the HSE was not in the manner they returned the bodies of infants to their families for burial, but rather their arrogance in assuming that they could deny the families their deceased infants in the first place. What the fortunate majority of the population must understand is that whether or not a child draws breath before they died, that infant child is forever part of the family. Therefore the HSE must facilitate the families of the deceased children in any way that lessens their burden and not in a manner that some administrator finds efficient.

Without the independent validation of the autopsy process on the rightfully mistrusted and incompetent HSE and the publication of the associated report, I for one would not have allowed an autopsy on my child, as the possibility of him being held in a laboratory for eternal inspection and dissection would be an insult too great for our little innocent boy. – Yours, etc,


Applewood Heights,


Co Wicklow.

I’ll be interested to see if the original writer responds.


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