A mother was shocked to find that her deceased baby boy’s brain was kept by authorities after he was buried 13 years ago.
Hannah Cheevers, 34, put her two-day-old baby to rest after he died of a heart defect. She assumed his body was buried intact, but police knocked on her door 13 years later and informed her that his brain was stored at Southampton General Hospital in the UK.
When baby Rhys died in 1998, the family gave authorities permission to conduct a post-mortem analysis, but they assumed he would be buried with all of his organs.
“We had his funeral, we got on with our lives as you have to and 13 years later we have a knock on the door from the Dorset police to inform us that his brain has been retained at Southampton hospital,” she said.
She said she did not know how to react when she learned the news.
“We had absolutely no idea that they had kept his brain.”
They told her that Rhys’ brain was in a storage unit and was never touched, but they were unable to tell her why they had kept his brain.
She has now decided to allow the brain to go to hospital research after she was given the option to either have it destroyed or buried with his body.
“I didn’t want another funeral. I’ve got other children now. It’s a difficult thing to talk about and I didn’t want to have to explain to my young children why we had to have a funeral...And, I didn’t really want him dug up to have his brain put with him. I just don’t like the thought of having a child dug up after they have been buried for 13 years,” Cheever said.
This isn’t the first time body parts have been kept by police after children have been buried.
A report by a recent BBC investigation revealed that body parts from almost 90 children were kept by police.
When a national audit was conducted last year, it revealed police kept nearly 500 parts, some as old as 50 years.