Healthy new-born babies may have been killed in Ukraine to feed a flourishing international trade in stem cells, evidence obtained by the BBC suggests.
Disturbing video footage of post-mortem examinations on dismembered tiny bodies raises serious questions about what happened to them.
Ukraine has become the self-styled stem cell capital of the world.
There is a trade in stem cells from aborted foetuses, amid unproven claims they can help fight many diseases.
But now there are claims that stem cells are also being harvested from live babies.
Wall of silence
The BBC has spoken to mothers from the city of Kharkiv who say they gave birth to healthy babies, only to have them taken by maternity staff.
In 2003 the authorities agreed to exhume around 30 bodies of foetuses and full-term babies from a cemetery used by maternity hospital number six.
One campaigner was allowed into the autopsy to gather video evidence. She has given that footage to the BBC and Council of Europe.
In its report, the Council describes a general culture of trafficking of children snatched at birth, and a wall of silence from hospital staff upwards over their fate.
The pictures show organs, including brains, have been stripped – and some bodies dismembered.
A senior British forensic pathologist says he is very concerned to see bodies in pieces – as that is not standard post-mortem practice.
It could possibly be a result of harvesting stem cells from bone marrow.
Hospital number six denies the allegations.
- Jennifer Lahl, MA, BSN, RN, is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Lahl couples her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and a senior-level nursing manager with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She is also called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, even being invited to speak to members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address issues of egg trafficking; she has three times addressed the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women on egg and womb trafficking.