A mother whose deceased son was incinerated without her knowledge has said his brain was tossed in the trash.
Organs of 18 babies were sent to Belgium from Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) for incineration without the knowledge or consent of their bereaved parents in 2020.
The incinerations took place across two days in late March and early April last year and one couple whose child's organs were part of this were Leona Bermingham and Glenn Callanan.
Leona, from Cork, Ireland: "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."
The pair were overjoyed to discover they were expecting twins, however in September 2019, Leona and Glenn’s twin boys, Lee and Lewis, were delivered at 33 weeks by emergency c-section at CUMH.
Hours later, baby Lee died, The Irish Mirror.
In mid-May 2020, Leona received an unexpected call from CUMH to say that the organs that they retained belonging to Lee had been incinerated and they wouldn't be able to get them back.
Rachael Liston, the family's solicitor, added: "It is like a double trauma for the family, they have lost a baby in very sad circumstances and then to learn subsequently that their baby’s brain has been incinerated is so traumatic.
"There’s a big difference between burying or cremating an organ and incinerating it with clinical waste which could include the likes of dressings or needles."
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But Leona and Glenn were not the only family affected. Documentation released to them under Freedom of Information legislation reveals the organs of a total of 18 babies were sent to Belgium for incineration without the knowledge or consent of their bereaved parents.
The South/South West Hospital Group has confirmed to Ireland's national broadcaster RTÉ it has commissioned an investigation into the events that led to the incineration of baby organs.
Seventeen months after the incident first came to the attention of hospital management, the review is only at an early stage.
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