Nearly 500 unclaimed infant bodies sent to anatomy departments

The old Anatomy building, TCD
The old Anatomy building, TCD

By Madeline O’Connor

A government report claims that almost 500 unclaimed infant bodies were sent to anatomy departments around Ireland for medical examination between the years 1940 and 1965.

The report out today reveals that medical schools such UCD, Trinity College and, the Royal College of Surgeons and NUI Galway received the remains.

These remains came to anatomy departments via institutions like the country’s infamous mother-and-baby homes, but the report states that “it is not possible to establish all the facts on this issue in the time available…”

Under the Anatomy Act 1832, the handing over of infant remains was legal as long as it provided “legal cadavers” for medical research. The report says this law is still in place, but “since that time unclaimed bodies are not accepted by anatomy departments any more.

Material provided by the Anatomical Committee of the Irish Medical Schools states that the transferring of unclaimed infant remains stopped during the 60s, after a public campaign led by a group of anatomy professors to encourage public donation.

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