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hospital The hospital refused to accept responsibility.

Parents discover a human leg in coffin of their newborn child

IMSS officials blamed the father for taking the wrong coffin

The grief of the parents of a newborn child who died in a Oaxaca hospital was exacerbated when they received an amputated leg in place of the body of their deceased son.

An 11-day-old baby boy who was born after 34 weeks’ gestation died from a congenital disorder in the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) Rural Clinic in Huajuapan de León last Friday.

The baby’s father and staff from a funeral home went to the Mixtec region hospital the next day to collect the infant’s body but left the facility with a coffin containing a human leg.

According to sources cited by the newspaper El Universal, the parents didn’t become aware of the mix-up until they arrived at Tacache de Mina, their hometown.

“The family noticed that blood was dripping from the coffin and checked inside; it was then they discovered it was a human leg,” El Universal said.

The parents subsequently returned to the hospital where they were able to collect their son’s body.

The family referred the case to a local prosecutor’s office, which launched an investigation that concluded that an IMSS employee was responsible for the mix-up.

But IMSS authorities in Oaxaca rejected the claim that a hospital employee was responsible, telling El Universal that the baby’s father was at fault because he took the coffin containing the human leg without checking its contents.

Pressed by the newspaper as to what part of its corpse delivery protocols had failed, IMSS simply insisted that the baby’s father was to blame.

“The man had all the documentation concerning the [deceased] newborn. He just got the wrong coffin. 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,” the institute said.

“But no one from the hospital realized? Who supervises the release of bodies?” probed El Universal.

“There are authorized personnel in charge of that … but he [the father] was negligent and took the [wrong] coffin,” IMSS responded, adding that the father had admitted he was to blame.

The Oaxaca Attorney General’s Office confirmed that an investigation had been opened but said the IMSS employee who was allegedly responsible for the mix-up wouldn’t face charges because the apparent error was rectified.

“… A mistake was made but at a criminal level there is no responsibility because the body was subsequently delivered,” it said.

The macabre mix-up occurred two weeks after a premature baby was mistakenly pronounced dead and taken to a morgue at an IMSS hospital in Coahuila. The baby was rescued from the morgue but died four days later.

With reports from El Universal 

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