The family, who learned that the organs of a dead baby had been incinerated abroad without consent or knowledge, made an emotional protest outside the Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH).

Protesters included Leona Birmingham and Glen Karanan with their son Lewis, who was born on September 18, 2019. The couple lost their son Lee, Lewis’s twin, the day after his birth.

The couple were told on a 16-week scan that one of the twins had complications, and the consequences of those complications were not fully understood until birth.

Lee Seung-yuop was admitted to the newborn ward after birth, but deteriorated rapidly. Her family managed to baptize with her brother before Lee died in her mother’s arms.

Ms. Birmingham said the couple was encouraged to undergo a post-mortem examination of Lee. They decided to donate his organs for medical research, in the hope of finding meaning from the tragedy and helping other families. However, they were supposed to regain their organs for burial.

She received a phone call from the hospital in May 2020 and said that her posthumous organs had been incinerated. She said her heart felt “split in half”.

“You already know how to deal with a broken heart, making you happy by having one baby. [losing] another. I do absolutely anything for them to hold hands and grow. All the milestones Lewis takes – it’s bittersweet. We are very happy, lucky and proud of Lewis, but I do anything to see him go to preschool or park with his brother.

“And this happens. When we knew, we didn’t know what to feel.

“Currently our focus is on getting answers [from the hospital].. I’m no longer compassionate. We are just numbers. They don’t think of us as a family.

“We are here to get answers about why this happened to all of us. We will not leave until we get those answers. All of us protest here I don’t want to do it. We all wanted to be sad for the children in a closed room. “

Leona Birmingham, Glen Calanan and his son, Lewis

Ms. Birmingham said her pain was exacerbated when she learned that what happened to Lee was not an isolated incident.

“This did not help the process of sorrow. It paused our process of sorrow. I asked myself:” Why did I donate his organs? “It I robbed you of the goodness.

“We learned through the Information Disclosure Law [that other families had been impacted].. Basically, the email said that senior staff would have a light breakfast to discuss how to tell the 18 families involved. I couldn’t imagine the other 17 families feeling like us. When we were together, they need to listen to what we say. “

Affected families asked Health Service Executives to investigate why multiple organs of 18 dead babies born in the hospital were sent to Belgium for incineration without their parents’ knowledge. We are asking you to publish the results.

Stillborn baby

Laura Kelleher has returned from Australia to Ireland to participate in the protest. Her stillborn girl Hope gave birth to the hospital on November 3, 2019, in the 25th week.

Ms. Kelleher said she and her husband, Fintan, traveled from Perth to Cork late in pregnancy. She was hospitalized for about three months after experiencing complications during pregnancy.

On October 31, 2019, Hope, a little baby girl, stopped her heart and was born stillborn three days later.

Ms. Kelleher said they called their baby Hope because they had only that in late pregnancy when the complications occurred.

After the post-mortem dissection was completed, the couple returned to Perth in January 2020.

“I signed an agreement to bury the organs in the hospital graveyard once they’re released. When I returned to Perth, I thought it would happen if the organs were released,” she said.

The couple only received the posthumous results of Baby Hope in September 2021. She died of natural causes, but said that her delay in receiving her results was a pain in her own right, without subsequent trauma.

Then, in September 2021, the hospital staff called me the day the RTÉ Investigates documentary was broadcast. However, Laura said she only learned about the incinerators of Baby Hope’s organs via social media.

Ms. Kelleher said it was still unbelievable that the incinerator had taken place. “We thought the service we received from the hospital was great, and all the while it was just a disappointment. They could just say what happened.”

” [RTE Investigates] The program has a document, and it turns out that there is a date there, which is the date after Hope’s death. “

The couple then contacted CUMH to ask if Hope’s organs had been incinerated, and they were informed.

Ms. Kelleher said they are still seeking answers and are waiting for a review to be published.

“They continue to be told they have an answer, but they keep us waiting.”

I have questions left

Meanwhile, Katie Quilligan, another affected parent, said, “I want to know who approved this and why.”

Her boy, James, died two days after giving birth prematurely at CUMH in January 2020.

She only knew what had happened to James’ organs after James’ death the night before the story of incinerator at RTÉ Investigates began.

“It was painful and we were ignorant of what to do next. I didn’t sleep for two weeks and just tried to handle what I learned. I was ringing the hospital and my doctor Was trying to get an answer, and we are still waiting for an answer.

“I don’t think I can fully accept or handle what happened until I get those answers. Waiting is like re-doing the process of sadness.

“HSE is disappointing us – parents and 18 babies involved in this.”

When the revelation was made in the RTÉ program, HSE vowed to conduct an independent review. But parents say they are still waiting for a report.

Waiting for an answer

Katie said she was first told that there would be an answer by November last year.

“But November is gone, and we’ve passed it well now, and we’re still waiting for an answer,” she said.

“The first draft is ready, but the HSE is said to have received legal advice not to give it to us. The fact that it is even legal advice. Are worried. What they find and what comes out. They should tell you what happened.

“This caused a lot of depression and anxiety. But I’m now being driven to get answers for my son. And I’m quiet until we get them. I don’t mean to be. I want to hear the baby’s voice and the rest of the babies. “

Another affected parent, Sarah Jane Connolly, said she wanted an answer for her little girl Nora. “We all do. She can’t stand up on her own, she’s not here,” she said.


The family claims they first learned about the baby’s organs …

In a statement, the South / Southwest Hospital Group stated that an external review commissioned by the hospital was underway.

“The review team keeps in touch with the families who participated in the review on a regular basis. When completed, the final report will be shared with all relevant stakeholders, including the families involved.

“It is inappropriate to comment while a review by an outside expert commissioned by CUH is underway.

“Similarly, CUH must respect the confidentiality of patient information and cannot make public comments or provide related details.”

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