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UK body parts doctor struck off

Dr van Velzen can no longer practise in Britain
Dr van Velzen can no longer practise in Britain  

LONDON, England -- The doctor at the centre of the dead children body parts scandal which rocked Britain has been suspended from the British medical register.

The General Medical Council (GMC) decided at an emergency meeting that Dutch-born Professor Dick van Velzen, who worked at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool, should not be allowed to work as a doctor in Britain.

The professional body that polices doctors said the pathologist who worked at the hospital from 1988 to 1995 would not be allowed to work in Britain, for the protection of patients.

"He has been suspended," a spokeswoman said.

Finlay Scott, the chief executive of the GMC, said the report on van Velzen detailed disturbing allegations and was difficult and distressing to read.

"Our position on consent is clear. Doctors have a duty, to make sure that they have informed consent before removing and retaining organs," Scott said in a statement earlier on Friday.

"They must give parents or relatives sufficient information in a sensitive way, to enable them to make these important choices and decisions."

A government inquiry in the organ removal scandal at Alder Hey said pathologists retained the hearts of 2,000 children and stored heads, bodies, brain parts and eyes from more than 15,000 babies and foetuses.

Falsified records

Van Velzen was not at the meeting but his lawyer in the Netherlands said the doctor believed he had done nothing wrong.

"Professor van Velzen takes responsibility for his actions and is accountable therefore. He is convinced that in a proper procedure it will be established that he acted in a medically correct fashion," Arnold Versteeg said.

"At the present time my client and I are considering what steps to take against the decision of the GMC," he added.

UK Health Secretary Alan Milburn told parliament earlier this week that van Velzen had lied to parents and stolen or falsified medical records to cover up his actions.

British tabloids branded him "a modern-day Frankenstein."

News that children's organs had been removed without their parents' knowledge shocked Britain when it first emerged during an inquiry into the high death rates during infant heart operations at another hospital in western England.

Doctors at Bristol Royal Infirmary had also removed children's organs. Inquiries into the practice at both hospitals led to promises by Milburn for changes in the law to ensure no organs can be removed without informed consent.

Several months ago Canadian authorities issued a warrant for him after children's organs were found in a Nova Scotia warehouse.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Organ scandal report savages hospital
January 30, 2001
Alder Hey: Tarnished centre of excellence
January 30, 2001

Alder Hey Children's Hospital

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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