A world-famous surgeon has been collecting and storing body parts from thousands of patients for 25 years in blatant violation of legal and ethical guidelines, according to a leaked report seen by the British newspaper The Independent.
Doctor Derek McMain has preserved the bones of at least 5,224 patients who underwent surgery on his hands, some of them children – although he did not have a license to store human body parts or the patients’ explicit consent, according to the results of the investigation.
The case was referred to the police by the Human Tissue Authority, which was not informed until last year.
“Everything remained calm, they covered it up,” says a worker in the private healthcare group where McMain worked.
The nurses, operations staff, and doctors at Edgbaston Hospital in Birmingham, where the surgeon had performed the majority of his operations, knew what he was doing.
Some hospital staff even helped him place bones taken from patients in special containers to be preserved and collected by McMinn staff, according to an internal report provided by BMI Health Care, which runs the hospital.
McMain’s suspicious activities, dating back to the 1990s, seemed to have been kept out of sight by some of the organizers until The Independent began making inquiries last week, despite the completion of an internal review in October of last year.
McMain, who has treated politicians, sports stars and celebrities, apparently admitted to hospital heads last year that he had kept patients’ bones on his seven-bedroom farm in Worcestershire, as well as at his commercial headquarters in Birmingham, and said he was preserving the bones for retirement purposes, telling investigators that Body parts were meant to ‘keep his mind active’.
West Merca Police confirmed that officers are investigating an alleged violation of the Human Tissue Act relating to a “private building in Werkestershire” after it was referred to the Human Tissue Authority.
McMain collected and stored the bones systematically over decades, all apparently without his patients’ knowledge.
The investigation revealed that it also collected thousands of patient records and associated X-rays in a list described as being similar to a “police database” in terms of the volume of personal information and DNA records.
The investigators said they were unable to confirm how the bone samples were stored.
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