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Archive for Sunday, September 18, 2005

Baby’s body mistakenly cremated at mortuary

September 18, 2005

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— They had planned to bury 20-month-old Akilah Austin Saturday in a white-and-pink princess dress inside a tiny white coffin with pink ribbons.

The whole family would have been there: her parents, Lisa and Marvin Austin, who had spent countless hours by her hospital bed since she took ill with a genetic heart defect in January.

Luca Vricella and other members of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center's cardiac intensive care staff had planned to go, to say goodbye to the baby who survived two heart surgeries only to die of pneumonia.

But the funeral plans were dashed after Akilah's parents arrived Friday at the Fleck Funeral Home in Laurel, Md., and were told their baby had been cremated, relatives said.

"Lisa and Marvin have lost the chance to say goodbye to their baby," said Lucille Czechanski, Akilah's aunt.

Christopher Downey, marketing director for the funeral home, did not answer questions about the incident or confirm that the baby was mistakenly cremated.

Czechanski said that the Austins had been told there were two babies in the facility and that the other baby was to have been cremated.

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