A protest will take place next month calling for answers as to why the remains of 18 babies were sent abroad to be incinerated without the parent’s knowledge.

‘We thought we had grieved for our son’

The mother of a baby boy whose organs were incinerated without her knowledge will take part in a protest outside CUH next month.

The protest is calling for the publication of a report explaining why the organs of 18 babies were sent to Antwerp, Belgium, and incinerated without their parents’ permission or knowledge. The publication of the report, which was originally set for November, was recently moved to 16 May but has since been delayed again.

Katie Quilligan, whose 2 day old son James died in CUMH in January 2020, told the Cork Independent the report has been delayed three times so far, and that she and the other parents “can’t take anymore”. She said: “We thought we had grieved for our son until this had all come back up, and we are still in a grieving process, but it's not even grieving at this point because we don't know where our baby’s organs are.”

Though CUH has confirmed that the report has been prepared, a spokesperson said that legal advice is being sought before the report can be issued to the 18 families.

An email from CUH to Ms Quilligan, seen by the Cork Independent, read: “I wish to advise you the draft report is prepared. As part of this process, the review team sought legal advice and it will be a number of weeks before I can furnish you with a copy of the report. This is unfortunate and I sincerely apologise. I acknowledge the additional frustration and upset these ongoing delays are causing you and your family.”

Ms Quilligan, who represents The Voices of Our Angels group, made up of 8 of the 18 families whose babies’ organs were sent abroad for incineration, questioned why the hospital was just now seeking legal advice. “Should this not have been done beforehand? Why is it even coming to a legal situation? Is there no humanity?”

Ms Quilligan said: “We had a feeling that we would eventually have to do something. We always said that at some point, if we don’t get our voices heard, we’re going to have to go public.”

Ahead of next month’s protest, Ms Quilligan sent a clear message that she and the other parents will not give up until they are heard.

“We just want them to know that we’re not going to be quiet until we get what we deserve. James was actually born, he did have a life. Our group are genuine parents who do not want this to ever happen again to other families,” she said.

In September 2021, CUMH apologised to the 18 families, saying it was “truly sorry” for the additional distress caused to the grieving families.

The Cork Independent reached out to the Department of Health and CUH for comment but none was received by time of going to print.

The protest on 11 June will begin at 11am outside CUH and all are welcome to attend. For more information visit facebook.com/thevoiceofourangels.