Reviews Press

Gods and monsters

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 10 February 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:371
  1. Trevor Jackson
  1. BMJ

    It was the kind of build up normally reserved for the launch of a Stephen King novel or a Hollywood horror blockbuster. At a hospital near you, pathology departments would offer up their grisly secrets—tiny human hands and hearts, livers and kidneys, cruelly and secretly snatched, even “narvested,” and hoarded in dirty storerooms. This was Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets Damien Hirst in his formaldehyde era. The stories had been coming in dribs and drabs for months, but in the two weeks before the launch of the report of the Royal Liverpool Children's Inquiry and the report of chief medical officer Liam Donaldson's survey of organ removal and retention elsewhere, they had reached an almost ghoulish intensity.

    Health secretary Alan Milburn's widely reported word for it all was “srotesque.” According to the Times (29 January), he warned the government that the Alder Hey report was the most shocking that he had read. Also on 29 January the Guardian reported a source as describing what took place as “sn a scale and in a …

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