IRISH TIMES, Dublin, Thursday, 21 August 2003.

Gardaí seek man who carried out circumcision on baby who died

Eithne Donnellan and Carol Duffy

Gardaí were last night trying to trace a man who circumcised a baby boy at the child's home in Waterford city at the weekend. The boy, who was just 29 days old, died within hours of the operation, having suffered severe blood loss.

The child was born to Nigerian parents at Waterford Regional Hospital last month. The family wanted the boy circumcised within six weeks of his birth for religious reasons.

It is not clear if they sought the operation at the local hospital, but even if they did, Waterford Regional Hospital does not provide male circumcisions on religious or cultural grounds.

The Irish College of General Practitioners wrote to the South Eastern Health Board earlier this year expressing concern about the health board's failure to provide this service in Waterford.

The gardaí became involved in the case when the four-week-old boy died at Waterford Hospital in the early hours of Monday morning, having been rushed there from his home. Detectives found no visible marks on the infant's body but a post-mortem examination was ordered.

Sgt Pádraig Dunne of Waterford Garda station said the post-mortem had been carried out by Dr Margaret Bolster from the State pathologist's office but the results had so far been inconclusive.

"We are at present investigating the tragic circumstances that led up to the death of a four-week-old infant in the early hours of Monday morning at Waterford Regional Hospital," Sgt Dunne said. "A post-mortem was carried out but to date the results have been inconclusive about the cause of death.

"However, we are continuing to investigate the circumstances that led up to the tragic loss of the life of this young child," he added.

A number of people, including the child's parents, who are understood to have two other children, have been interviewed by gardaí.

"A lot of people have been interviewed in relation to the incident and we are continuing to interview people at present," Sgt Dunne said.

The man who carried out the operation is believed to have travelled to Waterford from Dublin on Sunday.

The South Eastern Health Board, in a statement, confirmed a 29-day- old baby boy was brought to Waterford Regional Hospital early on Monday. "The baby subsequently died and the health board has referred the case to the coroner's office and to the gardaí," it said.

(File prepared 24 August 2003)