Mummy Esmeralda Hernandez was heartbroken when she delivered her stillborn at all of 22 weeks. All night, she mourned the loss of her son, Jose, and kept him close to her, with family members by her side.
The staff of the hospital had then promised to arrange for the baby's cremation, in a "respectful and dignified manner", and the family had given their consent.
What happened weeks later was to shock them...
Stillborn baby was thrown out
Two weeks later, police were tipped off that the body of an infant had been found amidst dirty linen, at a hospital laundry facility.
Staff at the facility were apparently shocked to see the baby tumble out of the bags of dirty sheets and hospital gowns, as they got working. The baby boy was still wearing a diaper and hospital identification bracelets.
When Jose's family heard of the news, they couldn't help but think, could it be Jose? Unfortunately, their worst suspicions were proved true.
It was Jose, after all.
This incident happened in 2013, and according to The Washington Post, mummy Esmeralda Hernandez, along with her family members, are now suing Regions Hospital in Minneapolis, United States.
They are demanding a jury trial and damages far in excess of $50,000” for the family's ongoing pain. They have accused the hospital of interfering with José’s body, demonstrating a “disregard” and “indifference” for the family’s rights.
They have also accused the hospital of hiding the truth from the family, even though they were well aware that the baby in question was Jose.
In their lawsuit, they talk about their pain when, “Laundry workers gawked at Baby José, took photos of him, and sent pictures of him into cyberspace.”
What the hospital has to say
The hospital has apologised for the mistake and is apparently working to identify the “gap in the system” to make sure the error does not happen again.
But turns out, it was not the only time such a mistake had happened. Around the same time as Jose, the remains of another baby, "Chang", had gone missing. Were they delivered to the same laundry service? His remains were however, never found.
An internal review done at the hospital revealed that the error was probably due to how these bodies were stored.
While some hospitals stored bodies in plastic bags or containers with clear labels, the Regions Hospital had wrapped stillborn remains in linens and stored them on a shelf in the morgue.
The hospital employees may have mistaken these for dirty linen.
Regions Hospital spokesperson Kristen Kaufmann has been quoted by MPR as saying, "I think what the problem was, is it was wrapped in linen, which can easily be mistaken as soiled linen."
After these incidents, the hospital has switched to storing foetal remains in body bags, and has apparently improved security and supervision in the morgue.
We feel sad for this mummy. A stillborn baby might just be a body waiting to be disposed for some people, but for a mum, it was her own flesh and blood and meant more than her own life...