The Isle of Wight Healthcare NHS Trust confirmed that in common with many other Trusts it had in the past retained some human organs following post mortem examinations at St Mary's Hospital.
Since 1970 432 organs were retained beyond the period necessary to establish the cause of death. They were retained for approximately three years predominantly because of potential compensation claims in relation to industrial diseases.
No organs have been retained at St Mary's since 1999 - with the exception of 2 which are over thirty years old and which have been retained for teaching purposes.
In that same period from 1970 small tissue samples (which can be smaller than the size of a pea) from 1506 patients have been retained as they form part of the patients medical records.
This confirmation follows the publication of the Report of the Inquiry into Alder Hey Hospital where organs were retained and the publication of the national census on organ retention by NHS Trusts and medical schools.
The Trust recognises that bereaved relatives may have questions about this issue, particularly given the understandable distress that the publication of the national report may cause. Any concerned relative is advised to call St Mary Hospital on 01983 524081 and a member of staff will answer any concerns they may have.
Graham Elderfield, Chief Executive of the Isle of Wight Healthcare NHS Trust, said "It is perfectly understandable that people who have lost loved ones may be concerned about the issue of organ retention. We do conduct post mortem examinations at St Mary's Hospital when this is required by the Coroner or when relatives agree to a hospital post-mortem and organs may sometimes be removed temporarily as part of the post mortem examination. However we do not retain organs beyond the point at which the cause of death is established.
Any organs removed in the course of post mortem examinations are restored to the deceased prior to interment or cremation, or otherwise properly disposed of with dignity and respect"
Further information about this matter can be obtained from the special government website at www.nhs.uk/retainedorgans or from NHS Direct on 0845 4647
Issue date: 30 January 2001
For further information, please contact the Communications Department, Isle of Wight NHS Primary Care Trust, St Marys Hospital, Newport, Isle of Wight PO30 5TG. Telephone number 01983-552003 (out of hours please contact the switchboard)