Devastated parents detail moment they found out baby's organs had been incinerated

© Provided by Evoke.ie

Parents Leona Bermingham and Glenn Callanan have candidly detailed the moment they discovered their late baby boy’s organs had been incinerated.

The couple welcomed twin boys in September of 2019, 33 weeks early via emergency C-section, but were informed that their son Lee would not make it.

After Lee’s death, Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) asked for permission to do a post-mortem examination on their son, to which Leona and Glenn agreed.

As reported by RTÉ, they were given an information booklet that shared all the details that they could need. This included what would happen if the pathologist needed to keep any organs for further examination.

© Provided by Evoke.ie Cork University Hospital Pic: Shutterstock

They were informed that their wishes regarding the ‘burial or cremation’ of any retained organs would be discussed with them.

However, in May 2020, eight months after their son’s death, Leona got a phone call from the hospital. The grieving mother was told the organs retained at Lee’s post-mortem had been incinerated, and they would not be getting them back.

In November, they met with the hospital and were told that it was Lee’s brain that was kept and set to be incinerated at a clinical waste facility in Belgium.

Speaking to RTÉ Investigates, Leona said, ‘My son’s brain went into a bin, as if it was a piece of rubbish, you put rubbish in a bin, why would you put my beautiful son’s brain into a bin?’

© Provided by Evoke.ie Pic: Shutterstock

The publication reports that 17 other families received the same news. In the Prime Time report, the incinerations took place over two days in March and April of 2020 without the consent or knowledge of the parents.

According to the report, internal hospital correspondence shockingly shows that mortuary staff knew in the early months of 2020 that its burial plot at St Mary’s Cemetery in Curraghkippane was full.

© Provided by Evoke.ie Pic: Shutterstock

While they were unable to secure appropriate burial space for the organs, it was decided that cremation was not a viable option. This meant several babies’ organs were stored in morgues.

However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Ireland it was reportedly decided to send the organs to be incinerated as there was a need to free up space in the morgue.

An incident report on the matter was sent to the Department of Health in May 2020. RTÉ report that management didn’t see it as serious.

© Provided by Evoke.ie Pic: Shutterstock

However, they were allegedly concerned about the negative publicity that would happen if the incident became public knowledge.

Senior medical staff at the Cork hospital disputed the comments and wrote to the HSE stating there was a significant risk of parental distress.

In a statement, the South/South West Hospital Group said it rejected the suggestion it was more concerned with adverse publicity.

© Provided by Evoke.ie Pic: Shutterstock

Watch Losing Lee, an RTÉ Investigates report, on Prime Time tonight at 9.35pm on RTÉ One

If you are affected by the topics discussed in this article call Aware on 1800 80 48 48 or Anam Cara on 085 2888 888 or click here for more information about how you can receive help.

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