Page last updated at 17:37 GMT, Monday, 24 August 2009 18:37 UK

Family challenge transplant rules

Gareth Anderson is critically ill after his liver failed
Gareth Anderson is critically ill after his liver failed

The family of a teenager critically ill with liver failure has said it is going to mount a legal challenge to get him on the waiting list for a transplant.

Gareth Anderson, 19, from Newtownards became ill after binge drinking with friends earlier this month.

Mr Anderson cannot be considered for organ transplant because rules stipulate patients need to be alcohol-free for six months beforehand.

His father, Brian, said he was facing a race against time to save his life.

"I'm dealing with a timebomb now, I've basically two weeks to save Gareth," he said.

Mr Anderson Snr said the six-month policy on liver transplants should apply to older patients with chronic alcoholism and not a teenager who has never before needed medical treatment for a drink-related illness.

"I have to take this to the courts, what else can I do?" he said.

"In my opinion Gareth doesn't fit in with the six-month policy."

His son was transferred from the Ulster Hospital to Kings College Hospital in London at the weekend.

World-renowned liver specialist, Professor Roger Williams, who treated Belfast-born footballer George Best, has also become involved in the debate, claiming the guidelines should be loosened in circumstances such as those faced by the teenager.

A spokesman for Kings College Hospital said the teenager was in a stable condition.



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