I received an interesting email this afternoon. It was from Mark Tighe a journalist with the Sunday Times. It read: ”
Did you see the ads in the papers today from the HSE? They are finally going to destroy the heelprick samples older than 10 years.”
This brought me back to a blogpost I typed up just over 10 years ago. At the time it had been discovered that Temple Street hospital had been retaining the bloodsamples it had gathered through the “heelprick” tests. This had resulted ina n *illegal* database of genetic material of everyone born in Ireland since 1984. It goes without saying that this is not only highly un-ethical but also illegal. You can read my blogpost on the topic here.
While I am pleased with today’s announcement it still raises a few questions. Apparently the screening programme was revised in 2011 and for anyone born after that date the parents have to give explicit permission for the sample to be retained. Additionally all samples will be destroyed after 10 years. The announcement also says that all samples taken between 1984 and 20o2 will be destroyed this year as they are over 10 years old. That still raises the question of the samples which were taken between 2002 and 2011 (when the programme was revised). These samples will apparently be illegally retained for another 1 to 8 years….
Another issue is that when I researched the matter three years ago evidence emerged that the retention of blood (and DNA) samples past the necessary period is allegedly commonplace in other hospitals and labs across the country. I have yet to see a follow up investigation to locate other hospitals where this practice is or has taken place.
Either way, it’s good to see that after three years some steps in the right direction are taken….