Ministers are preparing to change the law so that doctors are required to obtain proper consent for organ donation, in advance of the expected public outcry at the "horrific" report on the Alder Hey children's hospital scandal.

Ministers are preparing to change the law so that doctors are required to obtain proper consent for organ donation, in advance of the expected public outcry at the "horrific" report on the Alder Hey children's hospital scandal.

Government sources are privately predicting that the 500-page report by Michael Redfern QC, to be published on Tuesday, will be even more disturbing than the gruesome details which have so far been disclosed. The hospital had routinely removed and stored children's organs without their parents' knowledge.

"People will be totally shocked by the report. What has been going on is grotesque," said one source. "It is horrific. The way parents were dealt with was also a shambles."

To reassure public opinion and prevent harm to the NHS organ donor system, Alan Milburn, Secretary of State for Health, will announce that he is prepared to change the law if necessary to ensure that patients or relatives are properly consulted and give specific consent for organ donation.

New consent forms are to be issued to ensure this, and Department of Health officials have been asked to see if the Health and Social Services Bill now going through Parliament can be amended by the Government to make it an offence to break the procedures.

It is an offence to retain organs without permission, but the law is said to be so roughly drafted that it is almost impossible to bring a prosecution. Parents in the Alder Hey cases also feel they were duped into giving their consent by agreeing to "tissue" being removed, not knowing that this meant entire organs could be taken and stored indefinitely.

They were yesterday coming to terms with the disclosure that hospitals had removed tissue from living children during surgery and passed it on pharmaceutical companies for research. Alder Hey has admitted that the practice went on from 1988 to 1994, and that it received £5 for each sample of thymus gland tissue.

The Diana Princess of Wales Children's Hospital in Birmingham has also confirmed that tissue samples removed from the thymus glands of youngsters during cardiac operations were given to a pharmaceutical company - so far unnamed. The company then gave a small cash donation for the tissue, said the hospital.

The Alder Hey report is likely to condemn the actions of one "rogue" pathologist who routinely harvested the organs of children without their parents' knowledge. Ministers expect the GMC to use the report to have the doctor struck off, although he is now believed to be in the Netherlands.

The Government is anxious to ensure that the report does not spread fear among patients that the unacceptable procedures that were a feature of the children's hospital are generally practised elsewhere. There has been a reduction in the number of people donating their bodies to science which, ministers fear, may be a result of public anxieties about the Alder Hey case.

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