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DNA test demand in 'stolen' baby hearts case.

PARENTS demanding the return of baby hearts 'stolen' by a Midland hospital may ask for DNA testing.

Birmingham Children's Hospital admitted retaining more than 1,500 organs without proper parental consent last year.

Now it has been revealed families could ask for genetic proof that the returned organs are indeed those of their children.

Last August, the hospital sparked outrage by admitting it had retained 1,500 hearts of dead babies over a 35-year period without the full knowledge of families.

The scandal - and similar revelations at other British hospitals - sparked a government inquiry into organ retention.

It ended in March when new post mortem consent guidelines were issued.

Since the revelations the children's hospital has returned a number of hearts to parents for burial.

Now the Sunday Mercury has learnt families outside of the Midlands have demanded DNA testing to check the right organs are returned.

And the development may now prompt members of Birmingham's Stolen Hearts Group to also seek genetic proof.

The National Committee Relating To Organ Retention was set up as an umbrella group for parents across the country.

A spokesman said: 'DNA testing on organs has been requested by a number of families.

'They feel hospitals have broken their trust by keeping the organs of their dead children without their knowledge.

'So they want to be doubly sure the hearts and any other organs that are returned are those of their children.'

A spokesman for Birmingham Children's Hospital said: 'We have not received a request from any parent for DNA testing. We cannot comment on what may have been requested at other hospitals.'
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Author:Larner, Tony
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Aug 6, 2000
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