A mother has made public the plight of her son who became a teenage alcoholic and is now dying because he is not allowed a liver transplant.
Gary Reinbach started drinking alcohol with friends when he was 13. Now 22, he has one of the worst cases of cirrhosis of the liver among young people that his doctors have seen.
His predicament may serve as a wake-up call to a generation of young drinkers.
Doctors at University College Hospital in London have given Reinbach the most advanced therapies, including a one-off treatment with an artificial liver from San Diego, Calif. But all have failed and they believe only a transplant will save him.
Reinbach, from Dagenham, Essex, does not qualify for an organ because official guidelines state that heavy drinkers must prove that they can be abstinent outside the hospital before they are considered. But his condition is so severe that he cannot be discharged to prove he can remain sober.
His mother has chosen to speak out in an attempt to reverse the verdict that he is not entitled to a liver transplant, which would give him a 75 percent chance of survival. Without one his chance is about 30 percent, according to his doctors.
Madeline Hanshaw, 44, his mother, said, “Gary didn’t know what he was doing when he was 13. He didn’t know it would come to this when he was 22. He didn’t know he was going to die. All his friends who were drinking with him are still at home, they are fine.”
One of Reinbach’s doctors, Professor Rajiv Jalan, a consultant hepatologist at UCH, said: “This is a young man who has never known any better. ... We feel this boy deserves a transplant because it is the first time he has come to the hospital with an alcohol-related problem."
But a spokeswoman for Britain's National Health Service Blood and Transplant said: “This case highlights the dilemma that doctors [face] because of the shortage of donated organs. They have to make tough decisions about who is going to get the most benefit and who is going to take best care of this precious gift.”