Woman who miscarried given wrong remains due to Alberta lab error

A woman who suffered a miscarriage is grieving for a second time after learning she was given the wrong remains.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) has admitted the mistake was the result of a lab error.

Cara Roan is now speaking out in the hope the same thing does not happen again.

“I wouldn’t want this to happen to any other mother out there, like ever, because this is devastating,” she said in an interview Tuesday.

In January, Roan was four months pregnant when she started to experience complications.

Roan made several visits to a nearby hospital in Wetaskiwin, about 65 kilometres south from downtown Edmonton. On January 27, she miscarried while there.

A couple of weeks later she went to pick up the remains.

“They said, yes we normally don’t do this on weekends but you can pick up your baby as long as she has ID. So we went and picked up the baby,” Roan said.

Roan and her family members held a service and buried the remains at Mountain Creek Camp in northwest Alberta.

A few days later, she received some disturbing news.

“They called me and said that they gave me the wrong baby,” Roan said.

My heart broke into a million pieces. My heart sank.– Cara Roan

“My heart broke into a million pieces. My heart sank.”

In identical statements sent to CBC News, both AHS and laboratory services provider Dynalife said the error was made at the lab.

“We offer our deepest apologies to the two families who were impacted. This mistake should have not happened,” AHS and Dynalife said.

“AHS is taking this incident very seriously and is reviewing what happened in this case to determine how it occurred, and what can be done differently to ensure it never happens again … AHS is providing the family with a written apology and is available to listen to their concerns and answer any questions they may have.”

Second burial

“It’s just heartbreaking. I just can’t wrap my head around it,” Roan said. 

The thought of digging up the remains was unbearable for Roan, who is Indigenous.

“You don’t go back and dig up a body. It’s not right in our culture,” she said.

Ultimately, Roan said a doctor helped her exhume the original remains to return to the other family impacted. She has since received the correct remains and held a second burial service.

Roan is considering legal action over the ordeal.

“To find out that it wasn’t … my baby I put away the first time, to have to do it the second time, it was hard,” she said.

“I’m totally broken from this. I don’t even have the words for it.”

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