A couple whose 11-day-old baby boy died in a Mexican hospital were the victims of a horrifying mixup when they were given an amputated human leg to bury instead of their child’s body.
The little boy was born at 34 weeks but was found to be suffering from a severe birth defect that sadly turned out to be fatal.
The day after the boy’s death, Friday September 3, the grieving father picked up a small coffin from the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) Rural Clinic in Huajuapan de León.
It was only when the parents reached their home town, Tacache de Mina in Oaxaca in south-western Mexico, that they realised something was wrong.
“The family noticed that blood was dripping from the coffin and checked inside,” reports Mexican newspaper El Universal, “and it was then they discovered it was a human leg,” El Universal said.
The devastated parents returned the bloody limb to the clinic and exchanged it for their child’s body. But shockingly the clinic said that they were to blame, and it was the father’s responsibility because he took the wrong coffin home without checking its contents.
“The man had all the documentation concerning the [deceased] newborn. He just got the wrong coffin,” said a clinic spokesperson. “Instead of verifying which one really corresponded to his baby, he took another one that wasn’t [the right one]. It was he who made the mistake, not IMSS personnel”.
Responding to critical comments, the clinic's spokesperson added: “There are authorised personnel in charge of that … but he [the father] was negligent and took the [wrong] coffin,” and added that the baby’s father had accepted responsibility for the mixup.
The Oaxaca Attorney General’s Office has launched an investigation into the incident but the IMSS employee who handed over the coffin with the unexpected leg won’t be facing charges because the error has already been put right.
A statement from the Office said:“… A mistake was made but at a criminal level there is no responsibility because the body was subsequently delivered”.
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