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Parents sue Brigham and Women’s Hospital after premature baby’s remains lost

Alana Ross had already endured two heartbreaking miscarriages by the time she became pregnant with the baby she came to call Everleigh.Together with her partner, Dan McCarthy, they had so much hope to finally start a family.”I just wanted to enjoy showing them the world and being there when they experience the world for the first time,” Ross said in an interview. “I want to see it through their eyes. So I was really, really excited to start this next part of my life.”McCarthy couldn’t wait to take her to a baseball game at Fenway Park.”I’ve been a Red Sox fan my whole life. And we joked about doing stuff like that,” he said.At 18 weeks in, May 2020, they almost lost Everleigh, but a painful and invasive procedure continued the pregnancy for two more months.Everleigh was born premature on July 25, 2020, weighing just 2 pounds and 5 ounces. She lived for 12 days in Boston’s Brigham and Women’s neonatal intensive care unit. Ross’s and McCarthy’s hopes and dreams were crushed, again.”They let me hold her while she died, while I was holding her. She was baptized. And then when she was gone, they took her from us, but kept her in the room and dressed her in a white gown and let us say goodbye one more time as we walked out of the room. That was the last time we saw her,” Ross said. Ross and McCarthy were promised her body would be safe in the hospital’s morgue while they made burial arrangements.They chose a cemetery near where McCarthy’s grandmother was buried. But when the funeral home went to pick up her body four days after she died, no one at the hospital’s morgue could find Everleigh’s remains.”I thought it was some technical error. Surely she’s just somewhere else in the hospital or at the worst, she’s at another funeral home by accident, and they would just go and retrieve her,” Ross said.After getting few answers from the hospital, the family called Boston police, who started an investigation.According to the police report and the family’s lawsuit, here’s what police and the family believe happened:Three employees brought Everleigh’s body, swaddled in hospital linens, to the hospital’s morgue. Inside the morgue cooler, another hospital employee was in the way of the racks meant to hold the bodies of children. That’s where Everleigh’s remains should have gone. According to the lawsuit, the employee inside the cooler told the others, according to the lawsuit: “You can put it anywhere,” so they left Everleigh’s remains on the racks meant for adults.Police believe the following day, another person working in the morgue threw her body away with soiled linens, not realizing there were human remains in the misplaced bundle.”Being thrown away like trash when so many people loved her. It just rips my heart out of my chest because so many people were so happy that she was part of the family,” Ross said. “It was just so heartbreaking. We would never get to bury her and them. We wouldn’t even get to know where she ended up.”Boston police retraced the route of soiled hospital linen in a last-ditch effort to find the remains. They learned the linens are picked up from the hospital three or four times a week by a linen service in Somerville. When human waste is found, it’s deposited into a compactor, the contents of which are taken to a waste transfer station in Roxbury.The refuse that most likely would have contained Everleigh’s remains were taken from the linen service to the transfer station early in the morning on Aug. 10, 2020, according to the report. Waste at that station would have been taken to one of three end-points: a landfill in New Hampshire, an incinerator in Haverhill or a landfill in South Carolina.But police did locate hospital waste inside the transfer facility, giving them hope that Everleigh’s remains might be there. So police, along with transfer station staff, searched “soiled linens, towels, rags and hazardous waste such as blood and feces” for eight hours the first day, and again the next day, according to the police report.”I would like to thank them. They did exactly what I would have done for hours relentlessly. And I am eternally grateful for them trying,” Ross said.Not only are the parents grateful for undertaking the grueling searches, McCarthy said the police are” the only ones that have really provided any answers.”To this day the parents say they have never received an adequate explanation from the hospital about what happened. And there is more troubling information in the police report.A hospital investigator initially told police, according to the report, that “at no point does anyone leave the morgue cooler with any linens that could contain ‘Baby Ross.'”A morgue worker “was adamant to detectives that he did not observe, nor remove any soiled linens when he entered the morgue.” But two days later, he admitted to hospital security that he did in fact dispose of the linen that was later believed to contain the newborn’s remains.Boston police also wrote in their report that they had incomplete information from the hospital.”It should also be noted that detectives were not provided the complete video from the time ‘Baby Ross’ arrived at the morgue cooler to the time it was observed that ‘Baby Ross’ was known to be missing,” the report says.In a lawsuit filed Thursday, Ross and McCarthy also add that there had been a history of complaints about conditions in the morgue. The lawsuit is filed against Mass General Brigham and Brigham and Women’s Hospital as well as 14 individual employees involved with the case.In a statement, Dr. Sunil Eappen, chief medical officer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital said: “We continue to express our deepest sympathies and most sincere apologies to the Ross and McCarthy family for their loss and the heartbreaking circumstances surrounding it. As with any instance in which there is a concern raised related to our standard of care or practice, we readily and transparently shared the details with the patient’s family. We always evaluate both system and human factors that contribute to errors or potential issues raised by patients, family members or staff and take action. Due to pending litigation, we are unable to comment specifically on this case.”In her interview, Ross said: “I want to know what happened. I want them to be held accountable. I just I don’t want anybody else to have to go through this pain.””Every night I go to bed and I don’t know where she is. And that’s a terrible feeling. I know I have to live with that for the rest of my life,” McCarthy said.

Alana Ross had already endured two heartbreaking miscarriages by the time she became pregnant with the baby she came to call Everleigh.

Together with her partner, Dan McCarthy, they had so much hope to finally start a family.

“I just wanted to enjoy showing them the world and being there when they experience the world for the first time,” Ross said in an interview. “I want to see it through their eyes. So I was really, really excited to start this next part of my life.”

McCarthy couldn’t wait to take her to a baseball game at Fenway Park.

“I’ve been a Red Sox fan my whole life. And we joked about doing stuff like that,” he said.

At 18 weeks in, May 2020, they almost lost Everleigh, but a painful and invasive procedure continued the pregnancy for two more months.

Everleigh was born premature on July 25, 2020, weighing just 2 pounds and 5 ounces.

alana ross and dan mccarthy hold a picture of their baby, everleigh, who died at brigham and women's hospital.

Family photo

Baby Everleigh weighed 2 pounds, 5 ounces when she was born. She died 12 days later.

She lived for 12 days in Boston’s Brigham and Women’s neonatal intensive care unit. Ross’s and McCarthy’s hopes and dreams were crushed, again.

“They let me hold her while she died, while I was holding her. She was baptized. And then when she was gone, they took her from us, but kept her in the room and dressed her in a white gown and let us say goodbye one more time as we walked out of the room. That was the last time we saw her,” Ross said.

alana ross and dan mccarthy hold a picture of their baby, everleigh, who died at brigham and women's hospital.

Family photo.

Alana Ross’s last moments with her baby, Everleigh.

Ross and McCarthy were promised her body would be safe in the hospital’s morgue while they made burial arrangements.

They chose a cemetery near where McCarthy’s grandmother was buried. But when the funeral home went to pick up her body four days after she died, no one at the hospital’s morgue could find Everleigh’s remains.

“I thought it was some technical error. Surely she’s just somewhere else in the hospital or at the worst, she’s at another funeral home by accident, and they would just go and retrieve her,” Ross said.

After getting few answers from the hospital, the family called Boston police, who started an investigation.

According to the police report and the family’s lawsuit, here’s what police and the family believe happened:

Three employees brought Everleigh’s body, swaddled in hospital linens, to the hospital’s morgue. Inside the morgue cooler, another hospital employee was in the way of the racks meant to hold the bodies of children. That’s where Everleigh’s remains should have gone.

According to the lawsuit, the employee inside the cooler told the others, according to the lawsuit: “You can put it anywhere,” so they left Everleigh’s remains on the racks meant for adults.

Police believe the following day, another person working in the morgue threw her body away with soiled linens, not realizing there were human remains in the misplaced bundle.

“Being thrown away like trash when so many people loved her. It just rips my heart out of my chest because so many people were so happy that she was part of the family,” Ross said. “It was just so heartbreaking. We would never get to bury her and them. We wouldn’t even get to know where she ended up.”

Boston police retraced the route of soiled hospital linen in a last-ditch effort to find the remains. They learned the linens are picked up from the hospital three or four times a week by a linen service in Somerville. When human waste is found, it’s deposited into a compactor, the contents of which are taken to a waste transfer station in Roxbury.

alana ross and dan mccarthy hold a picture of their baby, everleigh, who died at brigham and women's hospital.

WCVB

The transfer station in Roxbury where police believed it was possible that the remains of Everleigh were taken.

The refuse that most likely would have contained Everleigh’s remains were taken from the linen service to the transfer station early in the morning on Aug. 10, 2020, according to the report. Waste at that station would have been taken to one of three end-points: a landfill in New Hampshire, an incinerator in Haverhill or a landfill in South Carolina.

But police did locate hospital waste inside the transfer facility, giving them hope that Everleigh’s remains might be there. So police, along with transfer station staff, searched “soiled linens, towels, rags and hazardous waste such as blood and feces” for eight hours the first day, and again the next day, according to the police report.

alana ross and dan mccarthy hold a picture of their baby, everleigh, who died at brigham and women's hospital.

Boston police

In this picture from a Boston police report, workers inside a transfer station in Roxbury along with police search for the remains of Everleigh.

“I would like to thank them. They did exactly what I would have done for hours relentlessly. And I am eternally grateful for them trying,” Ross said.

Not only are the parents grateful for undertaking the grueling searches, McCarthy said the police are” the only ones that have really provided any answers.”

To this day the parents say they have never received an adequate explanation from the hospital about what happened. And there is more troubling information in the police report.

A hospital investigator initially told police, according to the report, that “at no point does anyone leave the morgue cooler with any linens that could contain ‘Baby Ross.'”

A morgue worker “was adamant to detectives that he did not observe, nor remove any soiled linens when he entered the morgue.” But two days later, he admitted to hospital security that he did in fact dispose of the linen that was later believed to contain the newborn’s remains.

Boston police also wrote in their report that they had incomplete information from the hospital.

“It should also be noted that detectives were not provided the complete video from the time ‘Baby Ross’ arrived at the morgue cooler to the time it was observed that ‘Baby Ross’ was known to be missing,” the report says.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday, Ross and McCarthy also add that there had been a history of complaints about conditions in the morgue. The lawsuit is filed against Mass General Brigham and Brigham and Women’s Hospital as well as 14 individual employees involved with the case.

In a statement, Dr. Sunil Eappen, chief medical officer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital said: “We continue to express our deepest sympathies and most sincere apologies to the Ross and McCarthy family for their loss and the heartbreaking circumstances surrounding it. As with any instance in which there is a concern raised related to our standard of care or practice, we readily and transparently shared the details with the patient’s family. We always evaluate both system and human factors that contribute to errors or potential issues raised by patients, family members or staff and take action. Due to pending litigation, we are unable to comment specifically on this case.”

In her interview, Ross said: “I want to know what happened. I want them to be held accountable. I just I don’t want anybody else to have to go through this pain.”

“Every night I go to bed and I don’t know where she is. And that’s a terrible feeling. I know I have to live with that for the rest of my life,” McCarthy said.



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