A nation’s decency put to the test: decision due on transplant patient’s perilous removal to Nigeria

The NHS saved Roseline Akhalu's life. The Home Secretary is about to determine whether the Border Agency may end it.

In 2004, Roseline Akhalu entered the UK legally on a student visa to study a Masters Degree at Leeds University. While studying she became seriously ill and it transpired that she had developed End Stage Renal Failure. Following a period of dialysis, she received a kidney transplant. The NHS saved her life.

As I revealed on OurKingdom in May and June the UK Border Agency has repeatedly detained Roseline and tried to remove her to Nigeria, where, without access to medication to prevent rejection of the donated kidney, she is, according to her consultant Dr James Tattersall, “unlikely to live longer than a few weeks”.

The Home Secretary is due to make a decision on Rose’s case by this Friday 21 September. Support for Roseline is growing. She is a popular and active member of her local church where she volunteers and contributes generously to the life of the community.

The Right Reverend John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, joins many members of faith groups across Leeds when he says:

“Roseline has made a life in this country (gaining qualifications here) and is loved and respected in her community in Leeds. It saddens me to think that, having been accepted and cared for in the UK to the extent of being given a kidney transplant which has transformed her life, she should now find herself being forced to return to Nigeria where she would not be able to receive the medical treatment she needs to survive.”

Greg Mulholland has written to the Home Secretary requesting that Roseline be granted “permanent leave to remain on compassionate grounds”, which he describes as the right moral decision. The Joint Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Kidney Group, Madeleine Moon, has urged the Home Secretary “most strongly to allow Mrs Akhalu to remain in the UK” as a “decision to send Mrs Akhalu back to Nigeria will ultimately cause her death.”

Representations to the Home Office from the National Kidney Federation and from Rose’s consultant argue that the Home Secretary has a moral responsibility not just to Rose but to the kidney donor and their family, who have given Rose the “gift of life”. Kidney donors and their families are assured, in the words of Dr Tattersall, that “all possible efforts will be made to ensure that the donated kidney will be used wisely and not wasted.”

The Home Secretary, in returning Rose, would not only be disregarding the many pleas to save Roseline’s life, but she would also be breaching the trust the donor and family have invested in their gift of life, a trust that this gift will be used wisely and not wasted.

Rose’s solicitor, Tessa Gregory of Public Interest Lawyers, says: “There is overwhelming support for Rose’s case. Her community, her MP, her medical consultant, the National Kidney Federation and the All Party Parliamentary Kidney Group have all submitted letters and evidence to support her. It is now time for the Home Secretary to act with humanity and grant Rose leave to remain so she can get on with a normal life.”

Rose’s friends have set up a petition here, calling upon the Home Secretary to act with compassion.

About the author

Esmé Madill, a consultant in the not for profit sector, works with Shpresa Programme and the Women's Therapy Centre.