When Luke Bevan Taylor Reeve died suddenly at home, his husband tried to ease his partner’s engagement ring off, but it was too tight.
But when his body was released from the Royal Glamorgan Hospital mortuary, two diamonds were missing.
His husband Mark Bevan Taylor Reeve believes they were stolen and wants NHS rules changed so all belongings are photographed.
Cwm Taf health board investigated and denied any allegation of theft.
“I was mortified, I couldn’t take it in,” Mr Bevan Taylor Reeve said. “It’s absolutely abhorrent that anybody could steal from somebody who is dead.”
The 52-year-old dad, who lives in Treherbert, Rhondda Cynon Taff, shared his story as BBC Wales research showed hundreds of items have been reported stolen from hospitals in the past four years.
But recorded allegations of thefts from mortuaries are rare, with only one complaint documented by a health board since March 2014.
Mr Bevan Taylor Reeve’s complaint was not noted down as an alleged theft by Cwm Taf, but as a missing item, despite him filing an allegation and an investigation being carried out.
Mr Bevan Taylor Reeve’s MP, Chris Bryant, said he knew of two other families who had been left heartbroken after jewellery went missing from a loved one, and feared the thefts were not being reported or recorded properly by health boards.
“I’ve known people be in tears because they think that somehow it’s their fault its been lost to the rest of their family,” he said.
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The Rhondda MP also wants NHS rules to be changed so anyone who enters a hospital, whether alive or dead, has to have their jewellery photographed in case it is damaged or goes missing.
Currently rules differ across health boards, with patients warned not to take in valuables when they are admitted, while items on bodies are documented and returned to relatives when they are released from morgues.
Mr Bevan Taylor Reeve was 37 when he died suddenly in the couple’s home on 12 July.
His husband and a friend tried to remove the engagement ring but were unable to before his body was taken to the morgue.
“I did say to my friend ‘they’ll be fine, they’re going to the hospital’,” said Mr Bevan Taylor Reeve, who had wanted to get the ring merged with his own.
But he was told by the undertaker the stones were missing when he ripped his glove preparing his body for the funeral.
Mr Bevan Taylor Reeve believes they were forcefully removed as the ring had been reinforced to stop the diamonds falling out.
“It was made for him, he adored it, that someone stole them from him would have caused him so much pain,” he said.
Mr Bevan Taylor Reeve contacted the health board, who investigated but could not find the stones or any evidence of the theft.
In a letter to him, the board said it had recorded the ring going in and out of the morgue, and at no time was it noticed that any stones were missing.
He said he contacted the police who were unable to take it further due to a lack of CCTV.
“I am never going to get the stones back, but I can make other people aware so they can do something to remove the jewellery from their loved ones, to stop someone else having to go through this,” he said.
Cwm Taf said it could not comment on individual cases but it took the handling of patients’ property “extremely seriously”, and offered its condolences.
All valuables brought in to its hospitals are recorded and signed for by staff and kept safe, before being signed for on departure, a spokeswoman said.
“If any concerns are raised in relation to a patient’s property we will always conduct a full and thorough investigation, seek advice from the police and take any appropriate action required,” she added.
In response to calls for items to be photographed, the Welsh Government said all health boards had policies in place to ensure the safe keeping of personal items in mortuaries.
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