Baby Organ Group Faces Crisis After HSE Ends Funding

The organ retention support group, Parents for Justice, had to leave its national headquarters in Dublin yesterday after facing a funding crisis.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) which was providing annual funding for the running of the group, including staff and counselling, has not renewed its financial support.

The HSE said yesterday that following concerns by members of the organisation about the way it was being managed, an independent review was set up.

Charlotte Yeates, a founding member and administrator, said yesterday they have been funding the organisation out of their own resources since the beginning of the year.

“We will continue to provide a service to members — we will just work from our kitchen tables instead,” she added.

Parents for Justice was founded in 1999 after it emerged that hospitals here were involved in the removal and retention of organs of deceased children and adults without the permission of next of kin.

Mrs Yeates, whose child was one of those whose organs were taken, said yesterday they had received nearly 250 calls in recent days after it emerged that the bodies of some deceased children whose organs were removed were filled with sand.

The €330,000 helped fund the running of the office in Usher’s Quay in Dublin and also supported a counselling service. It has nearly 1,600 members but none pay subscriptions.

The group originally campaigned for a statutory inquiry into the controversy and has now appealed to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children to intervene to secure over 50 boxes of material collected as part of the Dunne inquiry which was never made public.

The HSE said yesterday it had a service-level agreement with Parents for Justice since 2005. “From the outset it was made clear to their representatives that the grant of €330,000 a year (to cover both administrative and counselling requirements) would cease in December 2007. This was acknowledged in writing by the group on April 12, 2006.”

The HSE said that in course of 2006-2007, it received “communications from members and former members of Parents for Justice who expressed concerns regarding management and administrative issues within the organisation.”

In light of this, it was decided in December 2007 to set up an independent review of the entire operation of the organisation. Parents for Justice were informed of this intention and raised no objection.

“An independent consultant has agreed to undertake this work. It is expected that this review can be completed over a short time period.”.

Charlotte Yeates of Parents for Justice can be contacted at 01-4508001.