Bereaved parents have called on the Government to urgently introduce legislation governing the practice of organ retention, more than 20 years after the scandal rocked Ireland's healthcare system.

Janice Boland and her husband John, from Co Kildare, lost their baby daughter Katelyn in 2006 after an emergency caesarean section at the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Ms Boland said that two years and four months after Katelyn’s death, Portlaoise Hospital contacted her to inform her that some of her daughter’s remains had been retained following her post-mortem.

"To get a call like that, it inflicts a fresh trauma – it's improper and I think it needs to be changed," she said.

"I think, myself – it could bring a lot of comfort if we knew that the politicians now were really going to step up to the plate and deliver a new model for the angels of the nation."

Ms Boland was reacting to revelations today that recently bereaved parents have once again discovered the practice of organ retention continues to the present day.


Watch on RTÉ Player:
RTÉ Investigates: Missing Pieces


Families described to RTÉ Investigates being kept in the dark about their babies' organs, with many only realising the truth many months after burying their children.

To discover that years later families are still experiencing what her family endured is, Ms Boland said, extremely frustrating.

"It is a very sad state of affairs that this continues reefing new traumas on families. The remarks of the past seem disingenuous, the false flags of hope. It just seems like we were delivered a lip service at the time as a false comfort because no real change happened, and it has to happen."

Meanwhile Michaela Willis, the author of a major 2009 report on organ retention practices in Ireland, today criticised successive governments for their continued failure to introduce legislation in this area.

In a letter to the Government, seen by RTÉ Investigates, Ms Willis expressed her frustration at the slow pace of change.


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The parents who had to bury their babies twice


She wrote: "I reported in 2009 and my recommendations were very clear, I now find some 13 years on many of the recommendations were never enacted and you still do not have primary legislation relating to human tissue."

Ms Willis has now called for a new external audit of post-mortem standards in Ireland, saying that there needed to be a "root and branch" examination of all related services in the country.

She also criticised the Irish health service for "inappropriate organ disposal, inadequate consent forms, lack of information for families" and a lack of streamlined services with coroners.

"It is heartbreaking to hear families are being subjected to such practices, this should just simply not be happening in 2022," Ms Willis added.