After learning that Temple Street Children’s Hospital had “cut up” baby Jessica Kavanagh and kept some of the child’s organs more than 25 years ago, her parents are now preparing to bury her againParents Rita and Jimmy Kavanagh still keep a shrine for tragic baby Jessica (Image: Irish Mirror) A heartbroken family are preparing to say goodbye to their daughter for a second time after receiving her final remains when a hospital “cut her up” and kept some of their child’s organs. Tragic baby Jessica was just six months old when she died on December 18, 1996. But parents learned three years later that Temple Street Children’s Hospital had undertaken the unauthorised removal of parts of her body, the Irish Sunday Mirror report. Rita Kavanagh, from Ballymun Dublin, has battled ever since and refused to give up despite being told the organ’s whereabouts were not known. The hospital informed the distraught family that Jessica’s brain had been sent to either Germany or Wales for incineration, but the paperwork had been lost.
The grieving parents learned three years later that the hospital had “cut her up” and kept some of their child’s organs
Rita then learned some of Jessica remains were still held there in a lab. Nearly 50 samples of the little one’s remains were given back to the Kavanagh family on March 23 this year and now the baby’s second funeral has been arranged for this Wednesday. Speaking to the Mirror, mum Rita said: “They threw her away like a piece of cabbage after cutting her up.
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“She had Edwards’ Syndrome, she died naturally, there was never any need for an autopsy, there was no need for our baby to be cut up and treated like she was nothing. “Crumlin hospital told us she shouldn’t have had an autopsy.
Now they are preparing to bury their daughter for a second time
“I wasn’t even told about the autopsy – I had to learn it for myself when I took off her little hat. “It is hard enough dealing with a child dying on you, but to know for 25 years in your head that the hospital did something wrong like this. “It’s like hospitals can do whatever they like. This is very wrong. “There are still people today who still say to me ‘you should move on’ and I want to say that is very hurtful. “My child is not here to fight for herself. If someone wants to come and live in my head and take over our suffering and what’s been going on for 25 years in my head, come and live with us and know what it’s like. “A wrong was done on our child and we are the ones left trying to fix it and fight for her. “I’ve another funeral to organise for Jessica, but her brain is missing, it’s gone, and I’ll never get that back. “My little girl did nothing wrong and she didn’t deserve this”. Rita and her husband Jimmy welcomed the arrival of their then fourth child, gorgeous Jessica, on June 10, 1996. However, she was diagnosed with Edwards’ Syndrome, a severe genetic condition that affects how a child’s body develops and grows. It is a life limiting condition. Little Jessica’s health deteriorated at four months and she suffered many seizures and was tube fed. Sadly, she passed away in her mother’s arms at their home on December 18, 1996, and was later taken into hospital by ambulance. When Rita and Jimmy were given Jessica’s remains back, they noticed she was wearing a hat and, knowing the child never liked hats, they instantly removed it. Rita said: “That’s when I saw she had been cut up. I nearly died myself, I was never told anything, I had to find out that way. “They took her brain out and cut her up all around her chest. I never knew her brain was gone until three years later. I was horrified. I can’t explain the feeling. “I had to leave her there in the hospital and go home and tell my other children about the autopsy as I knew they would take her hat off. “When you know she gave her all to live, and for them to cut her up like that, there was no need for it, and then to take parts of her and throw it in a fire, like it was an old head of cabbage when it was part of her, it was her brain. “They just discarded it and didn’t tell me.” Rita said she remembers the day Jessica passed away “like it was yesterday”. She said: “She wasn’t well, I had to get her oxygen, we were up all night. I asked Jimmy to ring an ambulance. I knew she wasn’t well. “When the ambulance came, I knew she was dead in my arms. “I feel comfort that she died in my arms and the two of us, me and Jimmy, were with her. That gives us comfort.” But Rita blames herself for what happened, saying if she kept Jessica at home when she died, the hospital could never have “cut her up”. She said: “To this day I believe I let my daughter down. “She fought so hard to live and I let her go in the ambulance when she died instead of keeping her at home. “I always believe if I never let her go with the ambulance the hospital could not have done this to her. “It is disgraceful. She was a little person, my child, and I want everyone to know my daughter and what the hospital did to her and how we only got the last of her body back last week. We are very proud of Jessica and this should never ever happen again. “We will have a very special service for her on 6th April and I’m asking the public to hold her in their hearts and if they can, think of her on that day.” In a statement, Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) said: “CHI cannot comment on individual cases. “When a patient or family makes personal information public, this does not relieve the hospital/CHI of its duty to preserve/uphold patient confidentiality at all times. “CHI is in contact directly with this family. The historical practice of organ retention without consent is an extremely painful and traumatic experience for those families affected. This should not have happened. “In situations where options are restricted by law, for example, a coroner’s post mortem examination, families will be kept fully informed in all matters relating to the care of their child who has died and be supported to be as involved as is appropriate to their situation.” Read More
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