The remains of 474 children who died in Irish hospitals and mother and baby homes were used for anatomical research over a period of 25 years, it was revealed yesterday. The Irish Independent reports that the remains of the “unclaimed bodies” were transferred to four universities between 1940 and 1965 for “study of the anatomy and the structure of the human body” before academics put a stop to the practice.
The universities implicated are University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, The Royal Society of Surgeons Dublin and the National University of Ireland Galway.
The anatomical committee of Irish medical schools said: “The practice of transferring remains from institutional settings to anatomy departments was in accordance with the Anatomy Act of 1832.” This law allowed for next-of-kin, or a person acting in loco parentis, to agree to donate the remains.
They continued: “Records show that between the years 1940 and 1965, 474 unclaimed infant remains were transferred to anatomy departments. The purpose was for the study of anatomy, the study of the structure of the human body.”
The revelation comes after many reports over the fate of children at the Tuam children’s home in Ireland. It was reported that as many as 796 children died at the home and were buried in mass graves, some of them in a septic tank.
Following several conflicting reports, however, Associated Press issued an apology for reporting the story inaccurately. They admitted misreporting Catholic teaching on baptism and Christian burial for children of unwed mothers, and said it was impossible to tell how many children, if any, had been buried in the septic tank.