The remains of a baby disemboweled without permission in 1975 so that its organs could be used for medical tests have been delivered to its “horrified” mother in a grocery bag.
Scottish woman Lydia Reid, who has been in hospital with end-stage bowel cancer, told the BBC she was surprised and dismayed when the NHS handed her a Sainsbury’s supermarket bag containing a box of six inches. In that box was all that was left of her son Gary, who died a week after he was born.
“I was so shocked and I was like, ‘How dare you?’” she explained. “Those are the only parts of my son I have and you want to give them to me in a carry bag?”
Reid, 74, spent five decades petitioning for a proper burial for Gary. He called what was brought to him “the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Officials took what was left of her baby to a funeral home. Finally, last weekend, Reid left the hospital for a day to lay Gary to bed in Saughton Cemetery in Edinburgh.
Reid has been at the forefront of a movement that reportedly led the Scottish National Health Service to admit that 6,000 organs and tissues were retained without permission between 1970 and 2000.
When Reid first asked to see Gary’s remains in 1975, he said he was shown a different baby.
In 2017, a court ordered the exhumation of the baby’s coffin. A forensic anthropologist reportedly determined that he was buried with no body inside. However, a state investigation concluded that Gary’s remains were in the coffin when he was buried. Reid still isn’t sure what happened to the rest of the little body.
An NHS spokesman told the BBC that the remains handed over to Reid at the hospital “were placed in a dignified wooden coffin”, which was carried around the hospital in a supermarket bag to avoid attracting attention. The NHS claims that Reid was not told to look inside the box.
“We sincerely regret the additional distress this caused,” the spokesperson said.