Distress over infant cremation mix-up

News Editor 27 November 2008

A couple, grieving over the loss of their new born baby, have been left distraught after it was discovered

that the wrong baby’s body was released from a funeral director’s

to be cremated.

The couple, who wish to remain

nameless had only just held a funeral for their stillborn baby two days previously when they were told that the baby they had just buried was, in fact, not their child.

Weyman Funeral Service, the company responsible for the mistake

have suspended a member of staff and have launched a investigation

into the error. It is believed that the mix-up was made by a staff member at Weyman’s, who transferred the wrong baby from Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

A spokesperson for the funeral company offered sincere apologies for the mistake:

“Weyman Funeral Service deeply

regrets the distress caused to the families of the deceased.

“Our agreement with Addenbrooke’s

Hospital is to transfer babies

to another destination, such as a funeral director’s or a crematorium,

with dignity.

“We have robust guidelines that must be followed to both identify the deceased and ensure that we carry out the precise instructions of the hospital.

“It is deeply regrettable that due to what appears at this stage to be a procedural error by a member

of our staff, the wrong baby was transferred to a crematorium.

“We have suspended a member of our staff and the situation is now pending our own internal investigation.”

Addenbrooke’s Hospital, which was not responsible for the mistake,

also commented on the tragedy: “This is a terrible situation

for both families. We send our deepest sympathy to everyone involved.We are supporting the babies’ parents and keeping them informed.”

Sands, the Still Birth and Neonatal Death Society (a charity

providing support for bereaved parents and their families) has condemned the error. A spokesperson

said: ‘’To have to go through a funeral not once, but twice, is beyond

belief.

‘’I do not think people appreciate

that just because a baby did not breathe, the loss is no less than that of another child. The grief of a still-birth never leaves a parent. It goes on and on.”

Liberal Democrat County Counsellor and spokesperson for children and young people’s services also expressed her shock at the situation in which the families found themselves: “I’m horrified and send my deepest sympathies to the parents.

‘’Mistakes like this should not happen.”

Katie Spenceley

News Editor