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I Hate This Story

I seriously hate stories like these. I'd much rather do fun stories and pass on to you guys funny pics or videos. But I saw this story last night after a reader emailed it to me. I was so horrified that I clicked away from it. But I couldn't get it out of my mind. So I'll pass it on to you but only because it's an indication of where we are as a society, as a culture.

The Daily Mail reports:

A grieving mother has won damages after blundering hospital workers handed her parts of her stillborn baby in an envelope.

Danielle Tivey, 27, of Canvey Island, Essex, was left with deep psychological scars after the ‘appalling blunder’.
Miss Tivey's son Tommy was stillborn when she gave birth to his healthy twin Alfy at Southend Hospital.

Grieving: Danielle Tibey, pictured with her partner George and other son Alfy (who is the twin of her stillborn), won damages from Southend Hospital in Essex

But the devastated mother had to fight for eight months before the hospital finally released Tommy's remains after staff lost forms indicating that Miss Tivey wished to have a funeral for the baby.

When the remains were finally released, a hospital receptionist simply handed a horrified Miss Tivey a brown envelope containing skin and tissue samples contained in six wax blocks.
The hospital gave the Mom the body parts of her son in an envelope. How much more dehumanized can you get? The boy's mother had to fight just to get the child's remains. They treated the stillborn boy as garbage.

I think this rings a bell for me because after my wife had a miscarriage at 10 (ish) weeks the doctors said they wanted to run some tests on the baby and despite our requests we never got our child back. We asked many times and they put us off, saying these things take time but eventually they admitted that the baby had been discarded.


I can't imagine what's wrong with the people in a hospital handing a mother the remains of her child in a wax block in a manila envelope. And these are care givers? I fear for our culture. I really do.

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Julie Robison said...

Horrifying! Praying.

Cam said...

I miscarried at our local county hospital at 14 weeks along, ten days ago. After demanding to be allowed to do a conditional baptism after being told the baby was "Just tissue" the battle began for the remains. I think I said "Catholic" a dozen times to make it clear that it was for religious reasons, but it was obviously a very strange request to those hearing it (mentioning that my husband's a law student earlier may not have hurt either...). My husband picked up the remains from the pathology department the next and was given the remains in an old cardboard box that had been on hand.

The funeral home was pretty horrified when they saw the box... and were very kind in offering us the entire cremation process for free... but we definitely witnessed the disconnect at the hospital that leaves me unsurprised that problems like this arise.

Prayers for the family...

Tracy said...

This is so sad, and I'm so sorry to hear that you were not able to bury your own dear child properly. I've had 3 miscarriages at home, and I think it would have to be a medical emergency for me to go to the hospital for one, after hearing all the stories of parents who were unable to lay their children to rest due to hospital policies requiring they be treated as medical waste.

priest's wife said...

These stories make me happy that my husband works for a Catholic hospital- even though it is not perfect, there is a definite protocol for remains. They even have a cemetary mausoleum for the babies that are not retrieved by the parents (you would be surprised at how many- my huband has to drive the babies over to the cemetary twice a year)

My 20-week fetal demise was as good an experience as it could have been because the baby was ALWAYS a person to all the hospital workers

Cam- I'm praying for you- my computer isn't letting me comment on your blog

JoAnna said...

How horrifying for this couple.

I had a D&C at 12 weeks gestation after a missed miscarriage in 2006... prior to the D&C I was given forms to sign that stated something like, "All tissue and etc. removed during surgery becomes property of the hospital to dispose of as necessary." I politely refused to sign that document, as we wanted our child's remains to bury, so the nurse just had me cross that line off and initial it, with a note explaining that we wanted the baby's remains released to us after all necessary testing.

Several weeks after the surgery (after several follow-up calls to the hospital), we went in to sign paperwork necessary to get his/her remains. The administrative person we met with was very nice and very apologetic that it had taken so long to get everything worked out... apparently it was not customary for parents to have their child's remains returned to them after a miscarriage so they were unused to having to handle that aspect. However, they figured it out, and with our consent they released the baby's remains directly to the funeral home (who very kindly did the cremation and burial for free). Our priest did a graveside service and said a Mass for him/her as well.

priest's wife said...

just fyi for those unfortunate to experince a miscarriage- 18 weeks is usually the 'cut-off' to recieve remains automatically, so do as the previous commenter did and notify them you want the remains. I know in my state, a woman can have automatic temporary 'disability' for 6 weeks if she has a 18 week+ miscarriage, but nothing before.

Anonymous said...

I lost our first son at 19 1/2 weeks. We refuse and autopsy - just couldn't do it. When I was pregnant again for the second time I was arguing in favor of a surgical procedure to help prevent late miscarriage and the doctor wipped out my file and read the autopsy results on our first son. I began to cry and he begna to stammer.
Something similar happened a 12 years later, when i received a pathology report on our final pregancy weeks after the early miscarriage saying the results were female. they have no clue what it means.

Subvet said...

Old joke:
Q: What's the difference between God and a doctor?

A: God never pretends He is a doctor.

For some reason it came to mind reading the story and comments. Just one of those things.

Foxfier said...

I've even seen Catholics-- pretty good ones-- talk about how Snowflake babies are a bad idea because it costs so much and you "may not end up with a baby at the end."

I think in some cases it may be a mental defense measure-- my grandmother lost several children before my mother came along, and it took several months before she could accept that my mom was alive, and not going away.

Tori said...

I work for a Catholic OB/GYN and we routinely assist parents in the burial process after miscarriage. Thankfully we work with a very understanding Catholic hospital and the staff is very cooperative when a baby's remains are requested. I can't imagine having to fight about it.

David L Alexander said...

"[E]ventually they admitted that the baby had been discarded."
I'd sue the bastards.

Fr Bill Peckman said...

This just breaks my heart at the abject cruelty they showed the grieving mother and nefarious disregard they had for the stillborn child. AS one who has been at graveside services for stillborns and have watched my sisters grieve over their own stillbirths, I cannot even begin to understand the callousness that underlies this story.

Kara H. said...

I wasn't at a Catholic hospital, but I guess I'm in a part of the country that values children at any stage. I miscarried at fifteen weeks and the hospital could not have been more understanding or compassionate. We were allowed to hold the baby twice after the miscarriage, no tests were conducted per our request and they sent the remains to a Catholic cemetery that essentially allowed us to bury the baby for free. We just had to pay for the headstone. We had a funeral and everything.

Just so you know that not everyone everywhere is this heartless.

Anonymous said...

I am also in a more caring region evidently... When our first daughter died in the womb at 28 weeks, we were allowed to see her and hold her after she was delivered. They even dressed her and took the same pics they would for any newborn. Her remains were handled the same as anyone who happened to die in that hospital. We were asked which funeral home we would like to use. When we said we didn't know, they suggested a good, but inexpensive, home. Our child was cremated and we held a funeral service for her (we weren't Catholic at the time). It gave us such peace. She wasn't born alive, but she was loved for all 28 weeks and she is missed. Her mother, father, and sister, pray for her soul continuously.


Christine said...

Every hospital has a cutoff - even some Catholic ones, usually lower, but still. Check out the cutoff at your local hospitals. Call the hospital's chaplain and ask him to look into it. And remember that at most hospitals remains ("products of conception") even over the cutoff, are often not picked up. Basically children abandoned by their parents. Moreover, be a l&d nurse long enough and you will take care of a mom who won't acknowledge that she just had a child who says "Take it away" even when a child is born alive. I have personally held a (nonviable) baby while it died in the OR, parents and extended family in the recovery area all wanted nothing to do with the child. Bathed, dressed, wrapped said child and knew that it would be buried by a priest with other demises. Horror exists everywhere, folks, pray constantly and vigilantly, for children and their caregivers and their parents and our world!

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your losses, and also for the disrespect shown to you and your children.

Maybe this is something that crafts people could do for hospital morgues -- give them something nicer in the way of little temporary coffins to put baby remains in. I mean, if you can have a nice box for a military funeral flag, surely we can also have something nice to keep remains-containers in, at least till they get to the funeral home or their final resting place. Something dignified but easy for hospital morgues to store, that wouldn't cost the hospital anything and thus wouldn't require a budget fight. Obviously there's a need.

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