Thursday, November 20, 2008

Good Clean Family Fun...


What it should look like, in time, if a shit-wipe oxygen thief doesn't wreck it in infancy; earlier today


In an earlier post, I made reference to my former incarnation as an APT.

I've watched the Baby P scandal unroll endlessly, with it's various references and suggestions with an almost surreal sense of inevitability.

You see, there are two species of Public Mortuary, those operated by local authorities which are properly funded and free of the petty bullshit politicking that bedevils the NHS, and the ones based in NHS hospitals (the vast majority) which enjoy neither benefit. What they both have in common is that autopsies are their stock in trade.

Autopsies fill the day. The Coroner's Court system requires autopsy as a statutory obligation in all cases of sudden or suspicious death, and the death of any baby will require autopsy.

I have seen many, and as a professional duty, I developed and pioneered new techniques in perinatal and neonatal reconstruction. That is, reassembling the little mites when the pathologist has done what must be done.

One of my last tasks before I baled out of the NHS in my unending (and so far pointless) quest for sanity in the public service was assisting at the second PM (in the case of suspicious death, the first PM is conducted by a Home Office pathologist under the direction of HM Coroner, and forms the basis of the prosecution case, a second may be requested by the defence team) of a battered baby.

I don't remember the details of the case, including the child's name. One doesn't unless the idea of A Rubber Room With No Sharp Things appeals, but I remember the injuries in forensic detail. I remember plugging the x-ray shots into the viewer and looking at them.

I remember the scorching rage that I felt as a man and a father that such a thing could be done, that such injuries could be inflicted by a full grown adult on something so tiny and utterly, utterly defenceless. I remember the sure and absolute knowledge, felt in my very marrow that if the perpetrator were given to me, that I would demonstrate my professional, clinical dissection skills, on him for as long as he could survive them.

And then I put all that aside.

It was my proud boast, that a normal adult subject of autopsy could be restored in just under twelve minutes. Babies always took longer. They're delicate, fragile and small; requiring specialised instruments and specialised techniques. When the pathological/police circus left town, I prepared those instruments, put some Bach on the tape player and marshalled those techniques.

I spent forty-five minutes, lavishing all my care, attention, patience and professionalism on that tiny, broken scrap of humanity. A being who enjoyed no love, patience or care in life. Who had, in fact, been systematically smashed to bits by a creature utterly unworthy of oxygen.

When I'd finished, I wrapped him in a clean sheet, placed him gently in one of my many refrigerators; and went for a cigarette and a cup of tea.

My point is this.

I had to suppress all emotion to do right by that dead child. I had to deploy and apply all my patience, skill and professional detachment to do the right thing by him.

When it comes to Peter Connolley (Baby P), will our masters do this? Are they capable of this?

Or following all the usual hand-wringing, bullshit and mawkish, goulish slavering; will we see the same old rush to judgement, followed by an avalanche of piss-poor ill thought out legislation?

Somehow, I lack any optimism.

3 comments:

The Refuser said...

Mac your posts may be infrequent, but they are worth waiting for! Great stuff and very moving. Thank you.

Dad Mzungu said...

In 1974, as a serving PC, I attended the drowning, ans subsequent post mortem of a 3 year-old boy. I remember his name, what he was wearing, where he died, how he died.
And since 1974, I have been asking myself whether I could have found him earlier and maybe - don't know how - revived him.
I will never know, but he still haunts me.

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