For 42 years, Lydia Reid has been visiting her son’s gravesite.
Just days after Reid, a mother of two, gave birth to her son, Gary, when she was 26 years old, he tragically passed away.
However, the circumstances around his death were always curious to Reid. According to Reid’s statements to The Washington Post, she was never entirely clear on exactly what happened to her child. When he was born in 1975, it was her first early delivery, and she was understandably worried:
“I’d never gone into labor early. I was fearful of what would happen to my child.”
The day after her water broke, when she was just 34 weeks pregnant, doctors decided to perform a Caesarean section, shortly after which Gary was taken to a special care unit:
“They did not feel it was wise for me to see him. They didn’t let me hold him. That’s the way it was is those days.”
The 68-year-old Scottish woman told The Washington Post that hospital staff insisted she stay in bed to recover from her C-section, but she was adamant on seeing her child and managed to visit him several times:
“He actually used to open his eyes and look at me. His eyes were not unlike mine, but more brown.”
Sadly, Gary wasn’t doing well. Reid told The Washington Post she never saw her child hooked up to any machines, but she did note that doctors and staff were “taking pus off his stomach with a needle day after day.”Screenshot/Washington Post
Six days later, her baby was taken to another hospital for surgery, but sadly, Reid was told he wouldn’t make it:
“He had surgery on his gut to remove the catheter that a doctor had left in him. They said his heart stopped three times on the table. They told me he had traumatic brain damage. They said he couldn’t recover.”
It wasn’t long before Gary was on life support, and soon, Reid was asked if the hospital could pull the plug. She told The Washington Post:
“I just went along. We were all very ignorant in those days. I was just a young mom.”
However, according to reports, that’s when things turned strange. The hospital put Gary back on life support without telling Reid. In fact, later that night, police officers reportedly were sent to Reid’s home to inform her Gary has officially passed away.
The Washington Post reported that Reid never saw Gary’s body in the hospital. Instead, she demanded a private showing at a funeral home.
That’s when things grew even stranger…
Reid said she initially wasn’t allowed to view her own son:
“I went to the undertaker’s and was met with resistance. They told me I couldn’t see Gary. But I wanted to put my son in his own baby clothes. I insisted.”
Finally, she was able to see Gary, but instead of her own son, she said she was handed “a huge child with blond hair” — very unlike Gary, who she said was very small and had dark hair.
When she told the funeral home the baby wasn’t hers, it said it was and that she was simply suffering the effects of “postnatal depression”:
“Everybody told me that. I started doubting myself.”
Furthermore, on the day of Gary’s burial, Reid told The Washington Post she carried the coffin herself and knew right away something was wrong: the coffin didn’t weigh enough for Gary to have been inside it:
“I know what it feels like to hold a baby.”
The Washington Post wrote:
Before the funeral, she worried they were burying the wrong baby. Now she worried, they weren’t burying a baby at all. But everyone dismissed her. Things like that just didn’t happen, they told her.
She stopped questioning it, but she said the thought “haunted [her] for years.”
Then, years later in 1999, a scandal across the U.K. broke, revealing that since the 1950s, some hospitals had been “secretly removing the organs of deceased patients, usually infants, purportedly for medical research,” according to The Washington Post.
And in 2000, when Reid demanded Gary’s medical records after being told his organs were never taken, she learned they, in fact, were. Actually, according to Reid, his whole body was.
She started an activist group against the practice and was even arrested for protesting the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, but she still wasn’t given any answers.
Though some families reportedly were sent their children’s organs and tissue back — they’d been kept for medical research — Reid received nothing.
So just last month, she was finally granted permission to exhume Gary’s grave. Per The Washington Post, a forensic anthropologist discovered that there were no traces of human remains or bones in the tiny coffin.
Gary was never buried there.
Now, she’s plagued with even more questions than before, telling The Washington Post:
“There was never any child’s remains in that coffin. I can’t even be sure he’s dead now — that’s the truth of it. Is my son alive? I have to look at all possibilities. My son could be anywhere.”
She isn’t stopping until she learns the truth, previously telling BBC News:
“Even if he is lying in a jar in a hospital somewhere I want to know. If it is possible to get my son back, I want my son back.”
The Washington Post reported that police have since launched an investigation into the funeral home that held Gary’s viewing despite the fact Reid believes her son was never there.
As for now, Reid continues to visit the empty gravesite to honor her beloved son, saying, “It’s all I’ve got.”