Sunday, January 18, 2009

Not again...

The body of a stillborn baby was found among hospital laundry in Montreal on Friday. This story from Canadian Press appeared in today's Toronto Star:

Baby's body found in a Montreal laundromat
Jan 17, 2009 12:48 PM
The Canadian Press

MONTREAL–The body of a baby stillborn at a hospital in Montreal has been
found in an industrial laundromat in the city's east end.

The employees of the Buanderie Qualite laundromat, located on Fullum Street, made the discovery on Friday, as they processed the laundry from the Lakeshore General Hospital in Pointe Claire.

Louis-Pascal Cyr, a spokesman for the Lakeshore General Hospital, told reporters Saturday that an internal investigation has been launched into the incident.

Cyr says the evidence suggests that something "was not done properly" and that everything points to human error.

According to media reports the baby's family has been notified about the incident.

The laundromat employees who found the baby were reportedly treated for shock.

This is far from the first such story I have heard in the past 10 years since Katie's stillbirth, and I'm sure it won't be the last, at least until hospitals adopt uniform protocols to follow in dealing with stillbirth (and perhaps not even then). And each time I hear of such a case, I find myself shuddering & think, "There but for the grace of God go I & my baby."

The first such case I heard of came within about a month of Katie's stillbirth, at a city hospital (NOT the one I had delivered at, thankfully). I read about the case and shuddered.

Thinking that taking photos of a dead baby would be "too morbid," I had not brought my camera with me to the hospital (my one biggest regret). Thankfully, the nurses took six Polaroids for us. They are lousy photos in almost every respect, but they are among my most treasured possessions, because they are the only ones that exist, that attest to the fact that, yes, there was a baby, and yes, we were (and still are) parents.

There is one of me holding Katie (not visible); one of me & dh with Katie (not visible); and one of me, dh, Mom & Katie (also not visible). And three of Katie herself. (My support group facilitator, who helped train nurses and other professionals who assist bereaved parents, told me she'd like to use my photos as an example of how NOT to take them.) Bundled up just as we had seen her, only her tiny red face is visible (and not very clearly at that). She is lying on a metal tray, held by the nurse's gloved hand. There is a bag in the background clearly labelled "SOILED LINEN."

I guess you can understand why hearing stories about stillborn babies' bodies found among the hospital linen hits pretty close to home for me.


  1. Oh for fuck's sake. Do you read Charmy's blog? She just had a story from NJ where the hospital "lost" the baby, and a search was on in local landfill. There's actually a picture of the mom and baby before the baby was "lost." And the hospital is now trying to hide behind legalese about what qualifies as "human waste." Which begs another question, no?

    Someone who works with NILMDTS responded to your comment on your photo with Katie and said she might be able to touch it up, for free. Let me know if can be of assistance getting her contact information for you.

  2. This story sickens and saddens me. I just don't understand why. It's disgusting, really.

  3. And me, Loribeth. How awful. Just awful.

    I'm glad you have the pictures, L, even though they may be examples of what NOT to do. One of C's pics clearly shows the gloved hand of the attending nurse, or maybe it's the social worker. I don't know. It's alwasy made me a little sad that my son had to be treated by someone with rubber gloves...


  4. Tash already mentioned the accident in NJ, which is just sickening, esp. the hospital's response.

  5. Oh, Loribeth. How awful that terrible stories like this hit anywhere close to home for you. It's almost unbelievable that these things happen, let alone as often as they do.

    You should send this post to the administrators at the hospital in Montreal. Maybe that will help them see how much of an impact human error actually has on real people.

  6. I read this news item and immediately thought of you and I thought about sending it along, then thought, oh, no don't do that to her, but somehow I knew you would see it. Sigh. How absolutely dreadful. Is there no protocol in place in hospitals? Thinking of you.

  7. These sort of stories are so sad and sickening. Reading these must be awful for you. I don't understand how so many slip through the handling system. or maybe they don't have one. Either way, it's just wrong.

  8. Ugh, I am just now reading this and am so sad and sickened, and when alongside your own story about the photo with the "soiled linens" in the background, it just makes it all too real. So very sad :(