HALIFAX — A New Brunswick mother who tried unsuccessfully to donate her kidney to her baby boy says parents should be allowed to assume some health risk to help their children live better lives.
Ashley Barnaby says she was informed recently that staff at the Queen Elizabeth II hospital in Halifax rejected her application because of her history of high blood pressure and gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
The mother says the risk to herself is small compared to the kind of complete change the transplant would bring to her 18-month-old son Zaccari Buell.
"It would give him a more normal childhood. ... He's attached to a machine right now and that's what is keeping him going," she said in an interview.
Zaccari currently requires 12 hours of dialysis daily at his Moncton home due to his stage-four renal failure and has spent parts of his young life at hospitals in Nova Scotia.
Barnaby, 28, says she was told she runs the risk of developing diabetes in the future if she gives her organ to her little boy.
However, the mother says she feels if she carefully monitors her health that she could avoid the possible future health problems related to her organ donation.
"I believe I should have a voice about what my health is going to be like in the future and what can be done for my son right now," she said.
"I would rather take my chance and do what I can personally to prevent that from happening and be able to see my son healthy and striving."
Barnaby also has criticisms of the screening process, saying she had indicated her prior health issues at the outset, yet went through three months of waiting before hearing of the denial due to the potential risks.
"I feel like we wasted three months. If I would have been told there were too many red flags ... we could have looked at getting somebody else (a potential donor) started with the process," she said.
Barnaby says if she had been approved as a donor, Zaccari's transplant could have taken place as early as next month.
In an emailed statement, the medical director of the living kidney donation program said the doctors follow national and international guidelines in deciding whether to access a donor.
"Unfortunately, there are times when health factors result in the donation being ruled out," wrote Dr. Christine Dipchand.
"In these cases, we know that it can be extremely difficult and frustrating for the patient, and as health-care providers we share in that disappointment."
Barnaby says there is a review board that will look at the decision, but she says she believes the chances are slim it will be overturned.
Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press