AN INVESTIGATION has been launched after the organs of at least 18 babies born in Ireland were incinerated after being sent to Belgium.
The incident occurred on two occasions last year when the organs of deceased babies born in Cork University Maternity Hospital were sent, along with clinical waste, to be incinerated in Belgium.
RTÉ Investigates discovered that the incinerations took place without the knowledge or consent of 18 grieving families, and that the parents were unaware their children's organs had been burned alongside clinical waste until they received a call from the HSE last May.
The hospital insists that it had no choice, as there was no burial plot for the internment of organs available-- and then, as the pandemic began in March 2020 staff became increasingly concerned that all of the space would be needed in the mortuary.
The hospital have apologised for the "distressing incident" in a statement to RTÉ Investigates, but said the incinerations occurred only through "very extenuating and unprecedented circumstances brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic".
The South/South West Hospital Group denied allegations that the hospital was "more concerned about the adverse media affect" and bad publicity should the story break than the "impact and distress" it would have on the families affected.
An investigation has begun into the incinerations, which goes against HSE guidelines, but RTÉ Investigates reports this is still at an early stage, despite it being 17 months since it first came to the attention of hospital management.
The full episode of RTÉ Investigates, which includes interviews with some of the families affected, can be found on RTÉ One tonight at 9.35pm or on the RTÉ Player here.