A lack of pathology resources may have led to a 11-month delay in a stillborn baby’s organs being returned to his parents following a postmortem at the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, an inquest has heard.
An inquest into the death of baby Ódhran Patrick Murphy, with an address of An Tigín, Irishtown, Mountmellick born on December 28th 2021 at Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise, was conveyed before coroner Eugene O’Connor at Carlow Coroner’s Court.
The two day inquest heard from pathologist Dr John Gillan that the baby’s death was caused by a haemorrhage behind his mother Hilary Murphy’s placenta which resulted in low oxygen levels.
When questioned by Sara Antoniotti SC for the Murphy family on the length of time it took for the baby’s organs to be returned Dr Gillan told the court: “It is seriously regrettable”.
He continued: “Resources (pathology) were stretched and in particular in 2020 and 2021″ in his department.
“We dealt with 40 per cent of perinatal deaths, there was a backlog of work, staffing issues and we were working under conditions which had befallen us. It is an excessively busy service.”
The court was told by Ms Antoniotti that Mr and Mrs Murphy did not consent to having their baby’s organs or tissue retained for longer than was necessary for postmortem purposes.
Dr Gillan explained to the Coroner’s Court that he was “unaware” of the “sheer” volume of correspondence from the baby’s parents Patrick and Hilary, their solicitor and other health agencies over why baby Ódhran’s organs were taking so long to be returned.
“If it was made known to me that the parents were anxious to have the baby’s organs returned I would have done that. It takes a lot of extra effort.”
He recalled a telephone conversation with Mr Murphy in late January, 2022 questioning what the postmortem results were and the baby’s father was informed by him about the cause of death.
Mr and Mrs Murphy in the court detailed events surrounding the pregnancy and that she had a “low lying placenta” throughout prior to recounting the events of the day their baby died and the subsequent still birth.
In a joint statement they said“no dignity, no compassion was shown” when they questioned why their baby’s organs were retained when the postmortem showed he was “normally grown and formed with no malformations”.
The inquest continues.