Page last updated at 14:00 GMT, Saturday, 12 April 2008 15:00 UK

Mother denied daughter's organs

Rachel Leake and her daughter Laura Ashworth
Mrs Leake said her daughter would have wanted to help her

A mother who urgently needs a kidney transplant has branded the system which denied her the organs of her dying daughter as "ridiculous".

Laura Ashworth, 21, from Bierley, near Bradford, West Yorkshire, died on 2 April, two days after an asthma attack.

Her mother Rachel Leake, 39, has kidney failure, but Ms Ashworth's kidneys were given to strangers.

Despite her personal wish to help her mother Ms Ashworth's organs went to others on the transplant waiting list.

Ms Ashworth, the mother of a two-year-old girl, was on the NHS Organ Donor Register, which records a person's wish to donate organs after death.

She had also told her mother she would be prepared to be a "living donor", but had not begun the formal process.

Laura's helped three people through this, but Laura would have wanted to help me
Rachel Leake

As a result Ms Ashworth's kidneys and liver were given to three patients on the UK Transplant waiting list.

Mrs Leake said the regulations should be changed.

"I believe it should be overturned, I really do," she said.

"It's an absolutely ridiculous law. Laura's helped three people through this, but Laura would have wanted to help me. To help her mum."

The 21-year-old, who had always been an asthmatic, had a coughing fit on 31 March and collapsed at the home which she shared with her daughter and mother.

By the time the ambulance arrived, Ms Ashworth's brain had been starved of oxygen.

She died two days later in the intensive care unit of Bradford Royal Infirmary.

A person cannot choose to whom their organ can be given when they die; nor can their family
Adrian McNeil, Human Tissue Authority chief executive

Her mother has suffered from kidney failure for seven years after developing complications from diabetes.

The Human Tissue Authority (HTA), the body responsible for implementing the consent requirements of the Human Tissue Act 2004, defended its decision to allocate Ms Ashworth's organs to strangers.

Adrian McNeil, chief executive of the HTA, said: "The central principle of matching and allocating organs from the deceased is that they are allocated to the person on the UK Transplant waiting list who is most in need and who is the best match with the donor.

"In line with this central principle, a person cannot choose to whom their organ can be given when they die; nor can their family."

My daughter was the recipient of a life saving heart transplant, and as sorry as I feel for this family, I believe that the principle should be adhered to
Jodie Lansdale, Brighton

'Tragic case'

However, he said the HTA recognised there may be exceptional situations when this rule might be reconsidered and it was taking soundings from professionals and organisations representing families before deciding if the rules should be changed.

In the meantime, it had decided there should be no change to the current system of allocating an organ according to need.

The family's MP Gerry Sutcliffe said: "This is a very sad and tragic case.

"You can understand the unique circumstances of a family where the mother needs to have a transplant and the daughter wants to help.

"One would hope that in a situation like this they [the HTA] could be very flexible; they have not been flexible in this case."


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