Mothers lifesaving surgery stopped at last minute because her bank blocked payment for operation

Mother’s lifesaving surgery stopped at last minute because her bank blocked payment for operation

Samantha Smith pre-warned Barclays transfer would be made for proceedure in US, but it was stopped anyway

Colin Drury@colin__drury
Saturday 26 January 2019 18:49
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A British mother’s lifesaving neuro-surgery in America had to be cancelled while she was being prepped for the operation – because her bank blocked payment after an automatic fraud alert was generated.

Samantha Smith, from Rochdale, flew to Arizona for the £250,000 procedure to rebuild her neck, which has been weakened by Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

But she said surgery had to be postponed on Friday morning because Barclays denied the cash transfer – despite her pre-warning them about it.

The 32-year-old, whose condition means her neck has become too weak to support her skull, was lying in her hospital bed at the Mayo Clinic, in Phoenix, when doctors broke the news to her.

It is unclear when she will be able to reschedule the urgent operation for.

“To have it taken away over money, money that we’ve got,” the mother-of-two told the Rochdale News. “We’ve lost the surgical date.

“There’s been a complaint escalated with Barclays but that can take up to eight weeks for that to be sorted.

“I was on the phone to them for hours crying that I’d lost the date that it took months to get.”

Ms Smith, who is still in the US, was diagnosed with the rare tissue disorder in 2017, and has had to wear a neck brace ever since.

The operation, which is not available on the NHS, would have fused the bones in her spine together to give her head greater support. It is thought there are only three surgeons in the world who can perform the complex procedure.

She raised the money through holding events and crowd funding. But she was attempting to pay the pre-surgery costs when the transaction was halted.

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Despite her spending almost three hours on the phone to the bank, Barclays refused to lift the restrictions.

A spokesman said: “We have now established contact with the customer and are helping to resolve the matter so the payment can be processed as swiftly as possible.”

The hospital has not commented.

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