Family horrified by man's burial without brain

Daniel Davies,Press Association
Sunday 23 October 2011 03:47

The family of a man who was buried without his brain spoke of their horror today at discovering the blunder.

The grave of Richard Hughes had to be dug up last week to bury the brain with the rest of the body.

Post-mortem examinations at the hospital where the brain was removed have already been suspended following an inspection of the mortuary.

The family of the former merchant seaman said they did not find out the brain had been removed during a post-mortem examination until months after the funeral.

The blunder has been blamed on poor communication between the coroner's office and the pathology department of the University Hospital of Wales (UHW), in Cardiff.

His sister Pamela Mathias said today: "I felt absolutely numb.

"When we went to say our last goodbye to him, to know that part of him was missing, it's just horrific to think that these professional people had made a mistake.

"There's no room for mistakes in a thing like that. It has got to be right."

Mr Hughes, of Goodwick, Pembrokeshire, died after he fell on his way home from a night out in November 2007.

His family were unhappy with the investigation and asked to see a pathology report after the inquest into the 48-year-old's death, which heard he had been drinking.

Only when they read the report after the inquest in April last year did they learn that Mr Hughes's brain had been kept.

Mrs Mathias had to ask the Home Office for a licence to disturb her brother's grave. The brain was buried with his body last week.

Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust announced this week that post-mortem examinations had been suspended at the UHW, Wales's biggest hospital, after an inspection of its mortuary.

In a statement, the trust said: "As the Pembrokeshire coroner has stated, there was inadequate communication between his office and the pathology department of UHW and the trust adds its regrets to those of the coroner's."

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