Waterford Regional Hospital has no currently retained human organs, according to the Willis Audit of Organ Retention and Post-Mortem Practice in Irish Hospitals published on Thursday of this week.

The validation status at WRH shows that no fetuses or organs from adults and children were retained at the hospital either pre or post 2000. A small number of organs (7) resulting from hospital post mortems and coroners post mortems were disposed of since 2000.

Disposal of organs was by burial, cremation or return to the family and the audit team found that there were ‘good hardback records’ of the returns process.

Since 2001, a total of 182 fetuses were buried in the hospital’s Angels Plot. WRH carries out post-mortem examinations on behalf of all hospitals and facilities in the South East region.

The Willis Audit found that WRH had considered its policies in relation to current national guidelines in relation to organ retention but revised policies have not yet been accepted and ratified by senior management although that is expected to happen in the near future. However, the hospital did state that it had partially implemented changes in revised policies.

At the time of the audit, the investigators found that the hospital did not specifically monitor the process surrounding the management of the storage, use, removal, retention and disposals of organs. However, when the audit team selected a number of cases at random for tracking, they were able to satisfactorily follow them through the system.

Countrywide, it was found that post-mortem practices and numbers of organs retained in 35 hospitals and 5 universities were validated to the satisfaction of the audit team. There were 21,487 organs retained in the state at the time of the audit. Approximately 10% of organs are retained in Universities/Colleges; approximately 78% of organs (16,759) related to the pre-2000 period and approximately 11% of organs (2,274) related to the post-2000 period.