A mother in Scotland had her worst suspicions confirmed this week when the coffin of her baby son was exhumed but no body was found inside. The discovery was “devastating” but not unexpected for Lydia Reid, 68, who was granted a court order last week to exhume the burial plot in Edinburgh after lobbying authorities to see the body of her son for 42 years, the BBC reports. Her son Gary died when he was seven days old at Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children in July 1975, but when Reid asked to see the body, she says she was shown a different baby, and at the funeral, she says, the coffin was too light to be holding a body.
After her son’s death, Reid became a leader in the campaign to expose the illegal practice of retaining body parts for research by hospitals. That campaign came to a head when the National Health Service was forced to admit widespread retention in Scottish hospitals between 1970 and 2000. During that time, about 6,000 organs and tissues were retained illegally, many of them from children. When the exhumation of Gary’s grave was finally conducted, forensic scientist Dame Sue Black found no human remains and no sign of decomposition, only a shawl, a hat, and a nameplate on the coffin with Gary’s name spelled wrong.