The accident prone Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool admitted another blunder yesterday when it disclosed that organs taken during a post mortem on a three-year-old girl had been accidentally destroyed.
At the same time the hospital admitted that many more organs and other body parts were taken from many of the children than had previously been disclosed. In some cases bodies were stripped of all their parts.
Simone Robinson was one of more than 800 children whose organs were taken in the scandal disclosed last year. The hospital had promised to return the organs but yesterday managers went to the home of Simone's parents to tell them they had been mislaid.
The incident is the second to be revealed by the hospital after Julie White was told in March her son Stephen's organs had been mistakenly thrown away. Ms White was forced to cancel a second funeral for her son.
That case led to the sacking of Frank Taylor, the chairman of the Royal Liverpool Children's Trust, which includes Alder Hey. The chief executive, Hilary Rowland, was sent on extended leave. After receiving a report on the Stephen White case, Lord Hunt, health minister, announced measures to tighten up the pathology service at Alder Hey and issued guidance to all hospitals.
Ed Bradley, spokesman for the Alder Hey support group, Pity II, said he was "lost for words" over the latest incident.
"I cannot describe the horror I feel. Each day seems to bring another blunder by the old administration at the hospital," he said.
In a statement, Alder Hey said: "The hospital has confirmed that organs belonging to a three-year-old girl have been accidentally destroyed after the child's parents were advised that the organs had been retained. The trust has expressed its deep regret over the pain and anguish caused."
Mr Bell, acting chief executive, said the hospital made a "thorough search" for Simone's organs and that members of staff had been interviewed.
Mr Bell said: "We are determined to ensure that all information on organ retention is completely accurate in order to avoid further distress to families."
The latest revelations came after the hospital's new management team decided in April that the hospital had not been sufficiently frank with parents and ordered a complete review of all organs and tissue held. That showed that in addition to brains, hearts and lungs many other body parts were taken including skin, bone and connective tissue.
A spokesman for Alder Hey said: "We decided we had to go through every single organ and piece of tissue and re-catalogue them. Now parents are being contacted with the full list of every item taken. In certain cases that is more than they were originally led to believe."
A report on the practice of retaining organs at post mortem by the Bristol Royal Infirmary public inquiry published on Wednesday called for a code of practice, backed, if necessary, by a change in the law to ensure that organs were never retained in future without parents' consent.