A mother who endured the anguish of having to bury her baby girl twice after a series of blunders at the maternity unit in Portlaoise Hospital has received an apology – nearly seven years after the birth.
Janice Boland (39) and her husband John, from Sallins in Kildare, lost their baby Caitlin in 2006 after an emergency caesarean section at the hospital.
A year after the distraught couple buried their first-born, they were forced to endure the heartbreak of opening Caitlin's grave after some of the baby's remains were retained without their knowledge.
Ms Boland, whose experience was revealed in the Irish Independent, said she has now received an apology from the hospital which she accepted.
"I received a call from David Walsh, the HSE regional director of performance and integration for Dublin Mid-Leinster, who apologised on behalf of the hospital.
"It was great for my husband and myself to receive such a sincere apology after all these years. It was very compassionate," she said.
Ms Boland, who is a primary school teacher at Gaelcholaiste Kildare, said the HSE "wants to do its utmost for us during this difficult time of disclosure and is offering counselling support for us this coming week".
She added: "This comes after seven years of isolation, but I do feel that the inner turmoil and pain we have, now needs this compassion. While they acknowledge that the trauma we went through – and still are, – can never be erased, they want to do justice for us."
The couple are gathering all the information they have for the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), which is set to launch an investigation into care standards at Portlaoise Hospital following a damning report into the deaths of four babies and the "appalling" treatment of their parents by staff.
Ms Boland had a scan during her pregnancy in August 2006 and was informed the baby, who was due in October, was fine. But she felt something was wrong two weeks later and went to Portlaoise.
She was told she needed an emergency C-section or the baby would die.
"When I regained consciousness I was told my baby had died. I was later told she had Edward's syndrome," said Janice, who played for Kildare in the All-Ireland Final in 2001.
Janice was placed in a single room on the same corridor as new mothers who had delivered healthy babies.
There was no en suite toilet and she had to use facilities near new mothers of healthy babies. "I could hear the babies all the time. I broke down crying every night," she recalled.
Ten weeks after returning home she received a letter from the hospital. It turned out it had registered her own death instead of Caitlin's.
More than a year later she was contacted by the hospital at her school telling her they had some of Caitlin's remains, forcing the couple to re-open the grave.
Janice has since had two healthy children Sean (6) and Ruby (4), both of whom were born in the Coombe in Dublin.