Wrong body cre­mated af­ter hos­pi­tal mix-up


GE­ORGE TOWN: The fail­ure to fol­low proper pro­ce­dures in claim­ing bod­ies at the Pe­nang Hos­pi­tal re­sulted in a mix-up where a fam­ily ended up cre­mat­ing the wrong per­son.

The in­ci­dent be­gan when po­lice sent the badly de­com­posed body of Ho Swee Kim, in his 50s, to the hos­pi­tal mor­tu­ary af­ter he was found in a house at Paya Terubong on Sun­day.

On Mon­day, the body of Fong Meng Tuck, 60, was sent to the mor­tu­ary af­ter he died in an ac­ci­dent at about 2am.

Ho’s fam­ily went to the mor­tu­ary to iden­tify the de­ceased and left af­ter mak­ing the nec­es­sary ar­range­ments.

theSun learned claimants have to make a vis­ual iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the body be­fore the re­mains are re­leased.

The mix-up hap­pened when the body of Fong was re­leased to un­der­tak­ers en­gaged by the Ho fam­ily for funeral ar­range­ments.

How­ever, it is learned that this is not al­lowed be­cause bod­ies can only be re­leased to fam­ily mem­bers.

Think­ing they got the cor­rect per­son, the body of Fong was sub­se­quently cre­mated, af­ter Ho’s kin gave the go-ahead.

The Fong fam­ily only found out of what tran­spired af­ter they went to the mor­tu­ary to claim his body and were shocked to be told that it had al­ready been claimed.

Their grief was com­pounded af­ter learn­ing that the body had been cre­mated and fi­nal rites con­ducted.

Fong’s son Chee Keong, 32, told theSun the fam­ily was fo­cus­ing on pre­par­ing his funeral. He said they wanted to make sure the fi­nal send-off was done prop­erly be­fore de­cid­ing on what to do next.

Chee Keong said ef­forts to ver­ify the iden­tity of the cre­mated re­mains were on­go­ing af­ter hos­pi­tal au­thor­i­ties took blood sam­ples from fam­ily mem­bers.

Pe­nang Hos­pi­tal con­firmed DNA tests were tak­ing place.

A Health Min­istry state­ment said the staff in­volved in the mix-up has been sus­pended pend­ing dis­ci­plinary ac­tion.

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