Alder Hey, the hospital at the center of the controversy surrounding little Alfie Evans, the UK toddler who was removed from life support against his parents’ will and whose parents say he has suffered inhumane treatment at the hands of the hospital, was caught in a controversy just over a decade ago when it sold organs from living children to Aventis Pasteur, a vaccination research firm, and also stockpiled the organs of deceased infants for years without parental knowledge or consent.
The UK Guardian reported in 2001 (HT: Live Action News’ Carole Novielli):
The hospital at the centre of a scandal over the stockpiling of babies’ organs today faced fresh criticism after admitting that it gave a pharmaceutical company body parts from living children in return for financial donations.
Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool said thymus glands removed from youngsters during complex heart operations were sent to the company for research purposes between 1991 and 1993.
The thymus glands, Alder Hey officials claimed, were removed as a “routine” part of heart surgery to allow surgeons better access to the cardiac area. However, parents were never notified nor did they give consent for their children’s thymus glands to be removed and then sold.
The Guardian noted that Pasteur donated approximately £5 per organ to Alder Hey. A hospital spokeswoman at the time apologized “if this information is causing any sort of grief to parents.” She added, “The hospital can confirm that for a brief period between 1991 and 1993 these were made available to a pharmaceutical company for research, and that we are aware that during that period contributions were made to the trust’s cardiac department.”
It was later learned that the organs of hundreds of infants had been sold. The hospital noted that the thymus glands “were supplied to a pharmaceutical company for them to produce drugs which would allow us to treat children with aplastic anaemia,” adding that “This was a very important part of their treatment and was something that the hospital felt it was very important to be involved in.” The problem with all this was that no consent had been given, and it was essentially a “commercial transaction,” even though, one doctor stated, “there was only a small token payment being made for these thymus glands….”
In the United States, a similar argument was made by Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, when it was learned that the organization had sold aborted fetal body parts and claimed to have received mere “compensation” equal to the costs involved in processing and shipping the organs… but it was later learned that organ procurement companies actually incur all those costs themselves, even sending in their own employees on site to do all the work. The sale of human body parts is illegal.
The Alder Hey pathologist in charge of removing “hundreds of organs from infants,” Dick van Velzen, was found guilty of “serious professional misconduct” in 2005, and lost his license to practice medicine, but was never criminally charged. This same pathologist was found to have stockpiled the organs of infants for decades.
As recently as four years ago, the Alder Hey hospital “failed to meet four of five national standards checked by inspectors from the Care Quality Commission.”
This news sheds a macabre light on the operational history of the hospital which now holds a fragile but still breathing little boy’s life in its hands.