Immigration: Mother consigned to certain death by harsh new rules

A young mother fell ill and died on a visit to Britain - an innocent victim of the hysteria over so-called health tourism

When Ese Elizabeth Alabi fell ill while on a trip to Britain and was told she urgently needed a heart transplant, she comforted herself with the knowledge that she was in a democratic country with an excellent healthcare system.

Instead, she was consigned to a certain death by draconian new rules brought in to quell the hysteria over so-called health tourism and immigration.

Ms Alabi was denied the chance of a heart transplant simply on the grounds of her nationality and died in hospital on Monday night at the age of 29, leaving three-month-old twin boys and a two-year-old son. Desperate attempts to get a High Court judge to overturn the rules were delayed as Ms Alabi was forced to fight a deportation battle even as she lay dying in hospital.

Her partner, Abiodun Abe, attacked the restrictions that relegated his partner to a lower priority than less sick patients. He said: "I am so angry. I love Britain and I thought it was a fair place but my wife has died because of these laws.

"Ese was devoted to God and was a good person. She always had faith that the judge would be good to her and that she would get a heart but it didn't happen."

Ms Alabi's case offers a graphic illustration of the other side of Britain's immigration debate, fuelled this week by the Home Office's admission that it has no idea of the number of illegal immigrants in the country. The Government's new rules, brought inlast year in an effort to quell fears of foreigners coming to Britain to take advantage of the NHS meant that Ese was effectively denied any chance to live.

A last-ditch bid was launched last week to persuade the High Court to overturn that decision but Ese's condition deteriorated before a judge could rule.

Richard Stein, a solicitor with the law firm Leigh Day and Co, who represented Ms Alabi, said: "I accept that there is a shortage of organs and that there was no guarantee that Ese would have got one, but she should not have been denied the chance because of the country she came from.

"After all, organs transplants are not decided on the basis of the colour of a person's skin.

"She was not a health tourist - she simply had the misfortune to fall ill here." He added: "I accept that we have to have rules to stop people from taking advantage of the NHS but they should not discriminate against people with genuine need because of this obsession about immigration.

"I think it is appalling that a civilised country like Britain treats someone like that.

"Her death was unnecessary."

Ese lived in Nigeria with her two-year-old son from a previous relationship and met Mr Abe when he returned for a visit there.

He has indefinite leave to remain in Britain and until recently worked for the Post Office.

As their relationship flourished, Ese made regular visits to Mr Abe at his home in Grays, Essex, but never overstayed her six-month tourist visas.

She travelled to Britain in September last year while pregnant with twins by Mr Abe and intended to return to her family in Nigeria to have the babies, but began feeling ill and breathless and was told she could not fly home. The twin boys, Jamal and Jazar, were born on 13 February but Ese's condition continued to worsen and she was taken to hospital in March.

She was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, which causes the heart to become enlarged, and was told her only hope was a transplant.

But she was then told that the new rules meant that while British, EU citizens and people from some other countries were put on a priority "group one" list for donor hearts, she would only put on a lower, group two list. With about 100 people on the group one list at any time and a shortage of organs, it meant she had no chance of receiving the heart she needed.

Lawyers went to the High Court asking for a judicial review of the rules but then had to fight on a second front after it emerged that Ese's illness meant she had overstayed her visa, which expired on March.

The judge adjourned the case for inquiries to take place about Ese's application for exceptional leave to remain, but by last Friday she had become so ill that doctors said she would not withstand a transplant even if a heart became available and she was at the top of the list.

Mr Abe said: "She was a very strong person and she tried to hold on. I took the babies to see her on Monday night and she gave them a kiss and touched them. I took them home and as I was taking them upstairs to bed the phone rang to say she was dead."

He now wants Ese to be buried in Britain so that the sons who never knew her will at least have her grave to visit.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "This is a tragic case, and we wish to express sympathy for Ms A and her family. It has involved an extremely sad and difficult process.

"Whilst no person is wholly excluded from receiving an organ, priority is given to those who are entitled to NHS treatment. We believe this to be a lawful, fair and reasonable way of allocating organs, and it is clearly supported by those who work in the field."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
John Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Application Support - Unix, Linux, Windows, Bash, Perl, Python

£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: An established leader in the Trading Syste...

Senior IOS Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Project Manager - ETRM/CTRM

£70000 - £90000 per annum + Job Satisfaction: Harrington Starr: Project Manage...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil