28 years later - the Truth?
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After receiving my letter of February 7, 2002, I received a letter dated February 15, 2002 from Ian Heppenstal, Head of Corporate Services for Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust and replying on behalf of Mr Martin Turner. This letter stated that they were sorry to learn of the continued distress relating to my son's death, it should be noted if it hasn't already been noted, my distress was caused by the continued lies that I had been told by Martin Turner and as I had the same distress when Mr Keith Hamilton left my home in 2000, why didn't they investigate further then and save me two years of continued distress. It went on to say that they will be investigating further and that the Chief Executive (Martin Turner) would write to me again when further information was available.
There then followed a second letter dated February 19, 2002 from Mr Allan Davies, General Manager for the Royal Gwent Hospital. This letter stated that an immediate investigation had already been started in respect of the questions I had raised in my last letter and that they would contact me in the very near future with the outcome of their investigation.
Letters, 15th and 19th February 2002
A month went by and we were beginning to wonder whether we would hear any more from Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust and would we again be fobbed off with more lies. It had become obvious to us that in our case they had been prepared in the past to lie as much as possible to protect themselves and if it meant digging themselves into a deeper hole, they would.
Then a letter dated March 24, arrived. It was a three page letter. My wife was about to leave our home to go to work and she worked at the Royal Gwent Hospital but not for Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust. I opened the letter and started to read its contents. The excuses start to come immediately out and blame for the false information that I was told was now being attached to someone who has retired and this is being done by the person where the buck stops and who now passes the buck back.
It says that I referred in my letters to a newspaper article, SWA December 8, 1999 where the Trust state "hospitals in Gwent do not carry out post mortem examinations on children" "The article in 1999 outlined practices that were current at the time. In as much as since 1990 all Hospital post mortems on Paediatric cases would have been referred to the University Hospital of Wales"
So how do they explain that the first newspaper report of Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust retaining organs was SWA September 4, 2001 and concerned a mother whose stillborn child was born 8 years earlier, ie in 1993 and they were holding body parts of him. At no time did Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust give a time or date in the original article from when they supposedly stopped performing post mortems on children. The article was deliberately published to deceive the relatives of the deceased whose body parts they had retained for many years because of the then scandal at the other hospitals. Unfortunately for them they brought me out of the woodwork!
I turned to the next page and the letter states " I apologise that you had previously received assurances from Mr Hamilton (no, you wrote the letter, Mr Turner) that a post mortem had not been undertaken". "Due to stringent checking mechanisms now in place, we have established that a post mortem was undertaken", 2½ years of lies and deceit have now been admitted in this sentence. " Mr Hamilton (still passing the buck) would have previously have been unaware of this and his checks would have concentrated on tracking whether a post mortem report existed as the indication of whether a post mortem had actually been undertaken" As I have said elsewhere on this website, where do you check if a post mortem has been carried out?. The answer is, where post mortems are carried out, at the mortuary. Where do you look for confirmation of a post mortem being carried out?, in the log book of the mortuary.
Also, as there were post mortems carried out on many other children, didn't Mr Hamilton, as he only checked the post mortem reports (above, according too Mr Turner), see the reports on post mortems carried out on the other children or is the fact, that no post mortem reports were ever kept on children and adults that hospital post mortems were carried out on?
Whose going to answer that question?
At every stage, Mr Martin P Turner, Chief Executive has passed the buck onto someone else including myself for reading an article in a newspaper that I should have known related to dates from 1990 and not before. I am a silly billy. Did anybody notice any clarification of this matter being published by Mr Turner?, no not on your nellie!
Did Mr Hamilton discuss dates with us and say the SWA article only referred to dates after 1990?, no because we were talking about 1974. Did Martin Turner mention dates in his letter to me dated January 31, 2000? and say the article only related to dates after 1990, no! because we were talking about 1974 and they both knew that post mortems on children were performed then, before and after, but it seems to be that in the letter of March 24, he is trying to stress the importance of the year 1990 as the year the article related from.
CODSWALLOP!!! as my mother would have said.
Letter, March 24, 2002. The Truth?
The next and most important part of the letter, I was completely unprepared for and because of the shock I now receive counselling (2004). I always knew that they had carried out a post mortem but this admission hit me like a tonne of bricks.
" At a post mortem a number of organs were removed from the body for further examination. However, in accordance with the normal recommended practice, these were returned to the body before it was released for the funeral. There are therefore no organs from your son retained at the Royal Gwent Hospital."
"However, some very small tissue samples were also taken at the time for the preparation of microscopy slides for further examination and these are still at the Royal Gwent Hospital"
I was unable to read the rest of the letter and after numerous attempts I managed with great difficulty to complete reading it later that evening. I still have great difficulty reading the letter today (2004) as it brings out in me great emotional feelings that I have difficulty in controlling, hence the counselling.
Why did they retain parts of my son? We knew what there was to know about him, that he was born with the intestine on the outside of his body, We knew that he died probably from some sort of shock to do with the operation that was carried out on him, so why retain parts of him for 28 years? Did they use these parts so that the information that they found out could be used to help another person, no!, so why?
The very small tissue samples as stated by Mr Martin Turner in his letter of March 24, 2002 were in-fact 7 blocks and 7 slides, one slide from each block. The blocks were taken, 3 from the lung, 3 from the liver and one from the kidney. These blocks are about 20mm x 5mm and are I believe dried or similar (*read the judgement of the Honourable Justice Gage and scroll near the end of it to see the process of how the blocks and slides are made*) and impregnated with wax to allow slides to be taken. In new born children they can possibly contain whole organs so they should not be treated lightly and could contain substantial parts of that child. The letter went on generally and with an offer to bury the retained body parts of my son which we did and held a second funeral, 28 years to date and time we originally buried Brendan.