Organs scandal misery as relatives jam hospital switchboards

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Hospital switchboards were today jammed by hundreds of people trying to discover if body parts had been removed from their dead relatives as the impact of the NHS organs scandal reverberated round the country.

Hospital switchboards were today jammed by hundreds of people trying to discover if body parts had been removed from their dead relatives as the impact of the NHS organs scandal reverberated round the country.

Hospitals from Southampton to Newcastle upon Tyne were taking details from families who now fear they have buried their loved ones without their hearts, brains and other organs.

Investigations are also being launched in Soctland and Wales to discover the extent of the organ retention scandal.

Some families may never know, however, if they buried an incomplete corpse.

Poor record keeping and the "shocking" disposal of thousands of organs as clinical waste may hamper attempts to trace body parts.

An independent commission is to be set up from April 1 to oversee the return of organs to relatives for burial, or their disposal in an agreed manner by hospitals.

Today, hospitals were taking details from people phoning helplines and switchboards as the complicated and gruesome process of tracking down the organs began.

A report by the Government's Chief Medical Office yesterday revealed that more than 100,000 body parts are still being stored in English hospitals.

Thousands of families are unaware that organs were taken from their loved ones during post mortem examinations and stored, sometimes for decades and in breach of the law, by hospitals.

The report found that 25 hospitals in England hold 88% of the organs cache - with some having thousands of body parts.

Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust, which has a store of 4,400 organs, said it had received more than 150 calls this morning, mainly from parents concerned that their dead children had been stripped of their body parts.

London's Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, which holds more than 3,000 organs, had received more than 50 calls from anxious families.

And the hospital's Child Death Helpline had taken more than 200 calls from all over the country, many of them referred by the nurse-staffed helpline NHS Direct.

A report into Alder Hey also published yesterday found that the hospital's former senior pathologist, Dr Dick van Velzen, had systematically and illegally stripped children of their organs to build up a collection of more than 6,000 body parts, including the head of an 11-year-old boy.

Health Secretary Alan Milburn has promised changes in the law to ensure a similar scandal is never allowed to happen again.

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