Family's plea over missing kidney


Parents of a man whose body was returned from Greece with the wrong kidney have demanded answers eight months after the authorities put them through the horror of an exhumation.

After Christopher Rochester, 24, died from internal injuries following a balcony fall on the island of Rhodes in 2000, his body was returned to the UK missing a kidney.

His mother Pam Cummings and stepfather George, from Chester-le-Street, County Durham, demanded the organ be sent and three months later one arrived.

But subsequent DNA tests paid for by the family showed it came from someone else.

In June, the Greek authorities demanded Christopher's body be exhumed to allow samples to be taken to prove the family's claims, and independent tests in Belgium have been carried out.

Since then the family have heard nothing.

Durham North Labour MP Kevan Jones wrote to the Greek Ambassador last week asking if the results of the Belgian testing were known, and if there had been progress in any criminal investigation into the missing kidney.

He wrote: "You will appreciate the family have found the exhumation very traumatic and the delay and lack of information is causing them great distress."

Mr Cummings called a news conference at the family's modern terraced home to put pressure on the Greek authorities to give them the answers they need.

He said: "We are no further forward now than when Christopher's body was exhumed.

"You would think they would treat us with human decency after putting us through this, and having moved Christopher from his final resting place, and for once in 12 years they would act humanely, with compassion and respect. But no."

The family have since been given counselling after feeling compelled to agree to the exhumation. If they had refused they felt the Greek authorities would claim they were obstructing the investigation.

Mr Cummins, 52, believed the kidney was removed at autopsy either to hide evidence about how Christopher died, or it was accidentally misplaced and lost, or, that it was stolen for a transplant.

"There is a possibility it was taken illegally for transplantation - we don't know because we weren't there," he said. Christopher's kidney has gone and it could be in somebody else's body.

"We want a court case so the people who were there can stand up and be held accountable for what they have done and explain in exact detail why they have done it."

In 2008, a Greek doctor was convicted of neglecting Mr Rochester during his treatment in hospital.