HK hospital refuses to release foetus for burial

A Hong Kong couple has been told they cannot take back the remains of a foetus for proper burial or cremation, after the wife suffered a miscarriage at 16 weeks of pregnancy. The city’s hospitals treat foetuses under 24 weeks as “clinical waste.”

The couple are both devout Catholics and wish to take back the remains of the baby in accordance with their faith. But the Hospital Authority has been unwilling to issue them a certificate of stillbirth, or Form 13, which is necessary for burial or cremation, despite there being no law specifically prohibiting the retrieval of foetuses under 24 weeks.

According to the Waste Disposal (Clinical Waste) (General) Regulations, the unlawful disposal of clinical waste is punishable with a HK$200,000 fine.

The only concession made by the Hospital Authority was that the remains could be released if the couple could prove they have arrangements for his cremation at a pet crematoria – a proposal that was dismissed as offensive, and understandable so.

Just how ridiculous is this?

Blenkharn Environmental, clinical waste, clinical waste discussion forum, clinical waste disposal, healthcare waste, medical waste, regulation, waste management, waste regulation, foetus, foetal remains


1 Comment

  1. The grieving couple in Hong Kong have finally been granted permission to pick up the body of their son for burial after they miscarried in the 15th week of pregnancy.

    The foetus, who they named Wally, has been held at a public hospital in the city since April.

    “We’re really happy and relieved,” the father, Kevin, told BBC News.

    “It’s bittersweet, of course, but I’m relieved that we’ve been able to get closure,” he said.

    “We will finally be able to bury our baby with the dignity and respect that he deserves.”

    Under current rules, deceased foetuses younger than 24 weeks are not routinely released to their families for burial.

    Instead, they are considered to be “clinical waste” and disposed of accordingly.

    Kevin and his wife Angela, who are using pseudonyms to protect their privacy, were only allowed to take their son for burial after the Catholic Diocese agreed to step in.

    The Church has agreed to set aside space in its private cemetery in eastern Hong Kong for foetuses born before 24 weeks of gestation.

    Called “Angel Garden”, the space is only available to Roman Catholic families.


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