Organscandal doctorsmay be prosecuted

by RACHEL ELLIS

DOCTORS at the centre of the Alder Hey baby organ scandal may face prosecution after the publication later this month of a damning report ordered by the Government.

Parents of children whose hearts, brains and lungs were removed and kept without their consent at the Liverpool children's hospital have been told that the police may soon become involved.

The new moves came to light at a meeting between Health Secretary Alan Milburn and representatives of support group PITY II (Parents Inter Their Young Twice).

Chief Medical Officer Professor Liam Donaldson is due to hold an organ retention summit in London on Thursday in which parents and doctors will be invited to express their views.

Paula O'Leary, whose son Andrew died in 1980, has been campaigning for justice since discovering Andrew's heart had been kept without her consent.

After the meeting, she said: 'We asked why the police had never been involved and they said that might happen after the report is released.

'Although they wouldn't tell us exactly what was in the report, they did say there was the possibility that those involved will face prosecution.

'They said there would be a change in the law and admitted what had been going on was a breach of the law and of coroners' laws.

'We were told they would provide counselling for us because the report would be so horrific.

'I went to the meeting expecting to be given a load of whitewash and not told

very much. I was shocked they were so helpful.'

Solicitor Ian Cohen, who is representing 170 families, claims the laws surrounding organ retention have been broken by pathologists at Alder Hey Hospital.

'The extent of the organ retention is far greater than anyone appreciated, not just in the North-West but nationally,' he said. 'The Crown Prosecution Service may want to bring a prosecution, but we need to see what happens with the outcome of the report.'

Merseyside police said they were waiting to see the report before taking any action.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said the possibility of doctors and pathologists involved in the Alder Hey scandal being prosecuted was 'pure speculation'.

Professor Dick van Velzen, the Dutch pathologist at the centre of the scandal involving the removal of organs from 850 dead children, has already been charged with illegally storing body parts by Canadian authorities.

Detectives in Nova Scotia issued a warrant for the arrest of the professor, now living in The Hague in Holland, after they found children's organs at a lock-up he rented.

Professor van Velzen claims Canadian authorities have mishandled his case and has filed to have the charges dropped.

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