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Almost 500 unclaimed infant bodies were sent to anatomy departments from 1940-65

The handing over of infant remains was legal under the Anatomy Act 1832 so as to provide “legal cadavers” for medical research.

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ALMOST 500 unclaimed infant bodies were sent to anatomy departments around the country for medical examination between 1940 and 1965.

A government report published today shows that medical schools including UCD, Trinity College and, the Royal College of Surgeons and NUI Galway received infant remains.

Remains

Mother-and-baby homes were amongst the institutions that transferred infant remains to anatomy departments, with the report stating that “it is not possible to establish all the facts on this issue in the time available…”.

The handing over of infant remains was legal under the Anatomy Act 1832 so as to provide “legal cadavers” for medical research. The law remains in force, says the report, but “since that time unclaimed bodies are no longer accepted by anatomy departments.

Material provided by the Anatomical Committee of the Irish Medical Schools states that the transferring of unclaimed infant remains ceased in the 1960s following a public campaign by a group of anatomy professors to encourage public donation, and practices have long been in place to ensure absolute procedural sensitivity towards donors and families.

Here is a breakdown of the Anatomy Department of each of the Irish Medical Schools:

Trinity College Dublin

Time Period Infants

Total 1940-1949                           93

Total 1950-1959                            8

Total 1960-1962                            2

Total 103

The Anatomy Department at Trinity received infants’ remains from St Kevin’s Hospital, St Patrick’s Home, Cork Street Hospital and St Clare’s Home in Dublin.

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

Time Period Infants

Total 1940-1949            72

Total 1950-1959            10

Total 1960-1962            5

Total 87

The Anatomy Department at RCSI variously received infants’ remains from Dublin Union and St Kevin’s Hospital and St Patrick’s Home,

University College Dublin

Time Period Infants

Total 1940-1949              234

Total 1950-1959              10

Total 1960-1965              5

Total 249

Anatomy Department at UCD received infants’ remains from Dublin Union, St Kevin’s Hospital, Temple Street Hospital / Regina Coeli and St Patrick’s Home.

NUI Galway

Time Period Infants

Total 1940-1949           7

Total 1950-1959           1

Total 1960-1964           27

Total 35

Anatomy Department at UCG received infants’ remains from Central Hospital Galway and Regional Hospital Galway

University College Cork

None

University of Limerick

None

All contemporary donations are predicated on fully informed consent.

Judge Yvonne Murphy has been named the chairperson of the mother-and-baby home inquiry.

Read TheJournal.ie’s Mother and Baby Home coverage here>>>>>>

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