Nunavut (Canada) June 7: Winnipeg health officials are pointing the finger at a local hospital after a Nunavut family learned that the hospital mixed up the bodies of their newborn son and another baby.
The mix-up happened after the baby's death at Winnipeg's St. Boniface Hospital in April. The hospital sent a body to parents Tony Alagalak and Alice Kinak in Arviat, Nunavut, where they held a funeral. It was weeks later, in May, that three hospital officials arrived to explain that the family had been given the wrong baby's body.
It's still not clear how the mistake happened. Officials with St. Boniface have declined to comment. Alagalak said he was told they're still looking into the case.
"They apologized," Alagalak said. "But I know somebody made a mistake there."
Alagalak doesn't know who the other family is.
He says too many infants die in Nunavut, and wants to see changes to the health-care system in Arviat - which has no doctor or ultrasound equipment - and the rest of the territory.
"I really think my government failed me," he said. "There should be someone here at all times for emergencies like that."
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) expressed sympathy but noted each hospital is responsible for its own morgue processes.
"The process for transfer of remains from hospital to families is a responsibility held by each individual hospital," said Krista Williams, WRHA's chief health operations officer, in a statement. She said St. Boniface is investigating.
All children's deaths are reported to the office of Manitoba's Chief Medical Examiner, which looks at the cause of death, according to CME director Mark O'Rourke.
He said the death of Alagalak and Kinak's son was reviewed and did not require further investigation, so the body was released back to the doctor.
The Manitoba Nurses Union said it is investigating the case, but declined further comment. CBC News is also seeking comment from Manitoba's health minister.
Nunavut takes some responsibility for what happened, said Francois de Wet, chief of staff for the territory's health department.
"We all take responsibility for it, as the Department of Health, when something happens to any of our clients, you know, we take that as, this is our responsibility," de Wet told CBC News.
"And we will go forward to try and find the best way to resolve it and to try and find a way that this will never happen again."
He said once officials know what happened, they will talk to the family.
"This is an absolute terrible thing that happened," he said. "As a father myself, I can't imagine the trauma that the family went through."
Source: CBC News