'Paperless' - The Alder Hey Organ Scandal

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The Alder Hey Hospital

It needs to be said right up front that the Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, GB is a wonderful facility, built in a unique park setting, serving children and their families with integrity and care. Click here to view their website and get to know a little of the many services they offer and the heart with which they deliver those services.

The Organ Scandal, discussed below and referenced in the Synopsis page of this website, the event which inspired the story behind 'Paperless', was the work of one man and, although the stain remains as a warning to future generations, is not indicative of the staff at Alder Hey and is not reflective of the fine work they do.

As is often the case, the misdeeds of one man, indeed sometimes a single misdeed of one man, can forever mar the countenance of an institution. Let this be a lesson to us all.

At the risk of being repetitive I want it to be clear that the novel 'Paperless' and the story it portrays is in no way intended to deprecate or disrespect the Alder Hey Chidren's Hospital.

The Alder Hey Organ Scandal

This novel is not an historical novel in the sense that it tries to dramatize an historical event.  Rather it is historically inspired, meaning that a real event in history inspired the story line of the novel.

The event that inspired 'Paperless' is the Alder Hey Organ Scandal that took place in the UK.  There are many web references to this scandal one of which is referenced here.  Accumulating the various bits and pieces of information on the web tells a horrendous story with world-wide impact.

The newspaper article referenced in the picture to the left can be downloaded as a pdf (my scan of the actual 'paper' article) here.  I'm sure the original article could be located elecronically in the Ottawa Citizen archives.

This article was written in 2000 just one year after the UK inquiry that discovered the vast extent to which these crimes extended.  The article outlines the Canadian response to van Velzen's practice in Halifax which began in 1995 when the organ theft was initially uncovered and he fled from the UK to Canada continuing his theft of organs from children.

It wasn't until four years later, in 2004, that the UK government responded with the Human Tissues Act.  

Articles I've come across regarding the scandal:

1. CBC News February 1, 2001

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