ONTD Political

Kidney patient may die if deportation from UK goes ahead

1:24 pm - 09/17/2012
The home secretary is to decide whether to deport a kidney transplant patient whose life depends on anti-rejection drugs despite claims that deportation would mean certain death.

Rose Akhalu had never left her home country of Nigeria. She had never even made a journey by flight. Eight years ago for the very first time at the age of 40, she boarded a plane and headed to the UK.

Rose came to study development at the University of Leeds, after receiving a scholarship from the Ford Foundation and a student visa.

She says her aim to was always to return to Nigeria and use her education to try and improve social conditions for women back in Nigeria. She hoped to change her own country, yet she soon found it was her own life that was entirely changed.

'Death sentence'

In 2004 at a regular check up with her GP, Rose was unexpectedly diagnosed with end stage renal failure - her kidneys were no longer functioning properly. She describes the moment she heard it as feeling like it was "a death sentence".

"I cried because I felt I was alone," says Rose. "I was in a strange land, its like my dreams were going to shatter."

For the next four years for four hours each day, Rose was on dialysis. But her luck began to change. As she volunteered in local charities and a church in Leeds, she began to make friends who helped her through her illness.

More importantly, she managed to a get a new lease of a life with the help of a kidney transplant. But it meant she needs to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life, in order to survive.

Rose says she is so grateful to the doctors and nurses of the NHS who have given her life, the irony is if she is deported it will now be the British state who is taking it away.

As far as the UK's immigration rules are concerned, Rose has overstayed on her student visa, she has no basis to be here in the UK. Yet her doctor and organ donation specialists say sending Rose back to Nigeria would mean sending her to die.

'Cruel and unjust'

Long term kidney care is not widely available in Nigeria. Few can could afford to import anti-rejection drugs, meaning effectively it is only available to the rich and powerful.

Rose's kidney specialist Dr James Tattersall believes that sending her back would mean the "the kidney would not last very long". He says for Rose it would mean certain death.

That position is supported by the UK's National Kidney Foundation. They have described Rose's situation as "cruel and unjust" and "a stressful position no transplant patient should find themselves in", adding "a journey leading to a mortal end is a frightening position for anyone to face, let alone one that could be easily averted."

Dr Tattersall also says if Rose's kidney is wasted, he believes the entire system of organ donation in the UK is endangered, because of a breakdown in trust. He says: "When a family gives permission for us to use an organ, they have to trust that we will use that kidney in the best possible way.

"If this decision goes ahead that would undermine that trust and reduce the possibility of people giving permission to allow us to use their organs."

Rose is now awaiting a decision from Mrs May, who can use her discretion to allow her to remain here.

Ethical questions

Rose's case raises several ethical questions. Is Britain responsible for the long term healthcare of foreign nationals and those on short stay visas? And if Rose is allowed to stay could this encourage so called 'health tourism' - immigrants and visitors who come to the UK expecting the NHS to pick up the bill for their healthcare.

The Home Office told me that they could not comment on the case saying it would be "inappropriate while there are ongoing legal issues," and adding that they "consider all cases carefully".

But if Theresa May rejects Rose's case, her campaigners say they will go to court. Tessa Gregory of Public Interest Lawyers represents Rose.

She told me they will apply for Rose's case to go to judicial review, where a judge could overrule the Home Secretary's decision and allow Rose to stay, which could set a legal precedent.

It is the story of one woman and her battle to stay in the UK, but Rose Akhalu's fate could also determine that of others.

Source: http://www.channel4.com/news/kidney-patient-may-die-if-deportation-goes-ahead

OP: I think the Home Secretary should use her discretion here. That way it takes away the Tory worry of setting a precedent, which a judicial review would do. Its a no-brainer if your heart's in the right place.
the_physicist 17th-Sep-2012 03:26 pm (UTC)
it is a no brainer. i hope this does get enough coverage that the home secretary can't do anything but approve her stay in the UK.
mi_iseul 17th-Sep-2012 04:17 pm (UTC)
IMHO it doesn't set the 'health tourist' precedent because she didn't come here sick, she came healthy. It was only after she got here and had been here a while (according to the article) that she found out she had this. So it's not even an issue to me. Let her stay here and live her life where she CAN, not where it means a certain death sentence. They'd have to know that would be on their consciences...

For that matter, I came here healthy and ended up chronically ill. Does that make ME a health tourist? *rolls eyes* (especially when you consider a LOT of people are actually leaving the UK to have health procedures done elsewhere cuz they can't get it here, or have to wait ridic amounts of time for it, so who are the health tourists here?)

anjak_j 17th-Sep-2012 04:22 pm (UTC)
This should not even be a question.

Somewhere, someone died, and a family and friends grieved for the life that was lost to give this woman a second chance; deporting her and sentencing her to certain death by organ rejection is a pretty fucking poor way to repay the donor, their family and their friends.
thelilyqueen 17th-Sep-2012 05:58 pm (UTC)
Seconded.

We can debate whether she should have gotten the transplant in the first place, but at this point the question is academic. She DID get the transplant and some family DID make the choice to donate hoping it'd make something positive out of their tragedy. That deserves to be honored, and the worst thing she's been accused of is not being in the country legally (le gasp!). No one's good, that I can see, is served by deporting her.
molkat 17th-Sep-2012 04:47 pm (UTC)
The NHS shouldn't have done the transplant if they couldn't reasonably be certain she would have access to anti-rejection meds for the rest of her life. If someone has the possibility of being deported back to where they won't have access to medical treatment it's risking the organ that could have gone to someone who would have had a better chance with it. That's the reason why here in the US there have been those news stories of transplant centers refusing to list illegal immigrants.

It's cold but when it comes to transplant you have to consider the outcome of the transplanted organ over the patients waiting for it since transplant organs are so rare and precious. At this point let her stay, don't waste the organ and she gets the bonus of not dying.
the_physicist 17th-Sep-2012 05:18 pm (UTC)
Luckily the NHS doesn't get involved in going about assessing how much money someone might have to try and work out if they could afford treatment if they had to go back home at any point... not everyone on a student visa will even go back. They might get a job and stay in the UK, for example. I think the NHS made the right call, absolutely.
fenris_lorsrai 17th-Sep-2012 06:15 pm (UTC)
The timeline here is little unclear, but it looks like the transplant was done while she was still on the student visa and she just overstayed for aftercare. If that's correct timeline, then there was no reason to assume she wouldn't be able to extend the visa.
rhysande 17th-Sep-2012 05:27 pm (UTC)
She came to England 8 years ago, or 2004. The same year she was diagnosed with end stage renal failure. Was she symptomatic for years due to long term chronic renal failure or sudden, acute renal failure that onset after she arrived in England? We can't know, from the details given in the article, whether or not Rose was ill and knew it before she made the decision to go to England. Maybe she is a health tourist. Maybe she isn't. Regardless, that discussion should have taken place prior to transplant. At this stage it would be inhumane to deport her.
the_physicist 17th-Sep-2012 05:37 pm (UTC)
well, she received a scholarship, otherwise she wouldn't have been able to attend. so even if she had been ill, she earnt her right to come to the country. ill or disabled people, or people at risk or getting ill or what not, should not be denied student visas. that would be a ridiculous precedent to set.

and her home country is a wreck because of the UK. Nigeria might have gained independence from the UK in the early 1960s, but the UK fucked up, and Nigeria's citizens had to pay. I think the UK can afford to let one of their citizens live now.
rhysande 17th-Sep-2012 07:42 pm (UTC)
Unless the U.K. and Nigeria have a treaty or contract that requires England to treat Nigerian citizens as people with special status, the history between the U.K. and Nigeria is superfluous information.

Most industrialized nations, the United Kingdom included, have health requirements for those applying for long term (3 months or longer) visas and the purchase of health insurance for the length of the visit is strongly encouraged. Scholarship or not, if Ms. Akhalu had indicated that she was in end stage renal failure on her visa application she would very likely have been denied a visa, much less health insurance, and entry into England. In fact, if she had indicated on her scholarship application that she was in end stage renal failure she would likely have been passed over for a scholarship.

That is how it is, that precedent is already set; it isn't what I believe it should be in an ideal world. I would love to see a world where the potential costs of one's health needs weren't a limiting factor in what one could do or where one could go. For that matter, I would love to see a world where everyone had access to good and affordable education and health care wherever they lived.

As I stated above, it doesn't really matter at this point whether Ms. Akhalu should or should not have been granted a visa and entry into England, she's there now. It doesn't matter whether she knew she was sick when she came to England or if she suffered from acute renal failure after she arrived, she was given a transplant. At this point it would be inhumane to deport her.
the_physicist 18th-Sep-2012 02:49 am (UTC)
The history is superfluous information in a case that gets to be decided by the Home Secretary at her discretion? I disagree on that. The Home Secretary has the obligation to see the bigger picture.
rhysande 18th-Sep-2012 04:55 am (UTC)
For some reason I think the bigger picture Theresa May sees will not be the picture at which you are looking.
the_physicist 18th-Sep-2012 06:09 am (UTC)
i don't think most politicians will see any of the big pictures we talk about here most of the time. most politicians don't give a crap about the big issues of -isms and -phobias or the like. doesn't mean i can't think they should and that other people should maybe consider those issues too. but bringing up shit western countries have done to other nations? we should leave that debate well alone, should we?
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