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Organs inquiry - new row delays hearings
[Posted: Tue 21/11/2000 www.irishhealth.com]
The Dunne Inquiry into the retention and disposal of children's organs by Irish hospitals looks set to be delayed until next year, as a result of fresh row between the support group for parents and the Health Minister, irishhealth.com has learned.
The inquiry was expected to begin later this month but Parents For Justice (PFJ), which represents over 2,500 families, claims that the Minister, Micheal Martin has failed to provide certain key assurances.
The inquiry is due to be in two parts. The first, in private, will be chaired by Anne Dunne, senior counsel. Her report will then go to a Dail committee for debate in public. PFJ wants clarification on the terms of reference for the public leg of the inquiry and the basis on which the inquiry report will be referred by the Minister to the Dail committee.
Meanwhile, nearly 200 families have received letters from St James's Hospital informing them that the hospital retained organs of their next-of-kin, without consent. Around 25% of these families have not yet responded to the letters.
A spokesperson for the hospital told irishhealth.com that 193 letters were sent to families, however around 50 families have not yet replied. The letters refer to organs retained since around 1995.
According to the spokesperson, the issue is being taken very seriously by the hospital and further contact will be made with those families who have not yet responded. "Some people may have moved from the address they held when the organs were retained. There will be a follow up. We will try to contact people by telephone."
However the spokesperson added that some people might simply not want to respond to the letter.
The letters that were sent to the 193 families offered two options; the families can make their own arrangements, or they can leave it in the hands of the hospital. In the case of families making their own arrangements, the letter states that the hospital will help out in any way they can.
A helpline number has been set up by St James's and it is: 1800 202 934. It will be manned during office hours.
* see ANALYSIS: Organs row puts medicine under the spotlight
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