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Minister vows to get answers over double transplant tragedy which left two patients with cancer from donor’s organs

© Andrew Cawley / DCT MediaJudith Tyreman and Pauline Hunt
Judith Tyreman and Pauline Hunt

A GOVERNMENT minister has pledged to get answers for a mum given lethal cancer in a double transplant tragedy.

Public Health Minister Joe Fitzpatrick met Pauline Hunt, who got cancer from her new kidney, and her husband Gordon last week.

Another patient, 63-year-old Tom Tyreman, from Stockton, died after getting cancer from a liver from the same donor.

Mr Fitzpatrick said he was moved by the courage and determination shown by Pauline, 49, and Gordon, 53, who are calling for more rigorous tests to be put in place to cut the risk of cancer from transplanted organs.

He said: “I completely understand why they have the strong desire to get answers, particularly whether or not a biopsy had been carried out prior to transplant in Pauline’s case.

“I will do all I can to make sure they get answers.

“As Public Health Minister I also want to ensure that if there are any lessons to be learned, that will indeed happen.

“I’ll be contacting the regulator, the Human Tissue Authority, to ask if they have thoroughly examined this case and whether all was as it should have been, or whether we need to learn from it.

“I doubt if we will ever get to a position where there is absolutely no risk but we need to ensure the conversations the service has with people before transplantation are clear and transparent.”

Go-kart racing manager Tom died within weeks of the transplant supposed to save his life at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.

His death prompted doctors to remove the kidney Pauline received, but it was too late.

She has told her medical team that she does not wish to know how long she has left with her husband and family.

Pauline, who met Tom’s widow Judy before Christmas, said: “The effects on me and my family have been utterly devastating.

“From believing I’d get a new lease of life to being told I’d been given a death sentence, has left us reeling.”

Pauline’s husband Gordon said there are still far too many questions that remain unanswered, including whether or not the organ she received was biopsied before it was transplanted.

The family say the donor’s other kidney was not used because of scarring and other issues, and a young man, who was due to receive the transplant on December 3, 2017, was sent home from Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital never knowing he had escaped a death sentence.

Gordon said: “We want to know why the transplant team rejected one of the donor’s kidneys, but went ahead and used the other.”

Pauline and Gordon say they are “thankful” Mr Fitzpatrick met with them – but remain disappointed Health Minister Jeane Freeman has not launched a full inquiry.

Pauline said: “Mr Fitzpatrick was extremely generous with his time and I have every confidence in him.”

Nicolette Harrison, Director of Regulatory Delivery at the Human Tissue Authority, said: “We are satisfied that a full investigation took place to establish that the correct processes were followed.”