Dad refused life-saving liver transplant after being diagnosed with cancer desperate for help

Chris hopes to fundraise £250,000 to see his family grow up…
Chris smiles with his wife, Jo and daughter, Millie on a sunny day.
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A dad-of-one has been “left in limbo” waiting for life-saving treatment after he is refused a liver transplant on the NHS because of “conflicting illnesses”.

Chris Ansell, 35, from Yorkshire, was diagnosed with an aggressive and rare form of bile-duct cancer three weeks ago, but also suffers from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease, and chronic liver disease.

In a tragic twist of fate, due to UK policy, despite needing of a new liver, the dad is unable to get on the NHS waiting list – because he also has cancer.

Chris takes a selfie while lying in a hospital bed.
Chris was initially diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (Picture: Jam Press)

Although his malignant tumour is currently small enough to manage, it’s a “ticking time bomb” that if left untreated, could soon kill him.

The worry of leaving his wife, Jo, and their daughter, Millie, four, is eating Chris up inside as he desperately tries to raise funds for surgery abroad.

“It’s a catch-22; I can’t get the liver transplant I need because I have cancer, and if I don’t get it, the tumour might soon kill me,” he told Jam Press.

“The worst part is the thought of leaving my family behind – it’s eating me up inside.

“I live every day in a dark tunnel, I can’t see the light.

“I am very grateful to the incredible doctors and nurses looking after me but their hands are tied, and it feels like I’m just being left to die.”

Chris is currently waiting for a new policy change to help people in his position i.e. but he has no idea when this will happen.

The longer he waits, the more chance that the cancer takes hold.

He said: “My tumour is a ticking time bomb.

Chris smiling with his wife, Jo and daughter, Millie while on a beach.
While the malignant tumour is small enough to manage, it’s a “ticking time bomb” (Picture: Jam Press)

“I have been told by the NHS that a new policy is coming but the date has been moved several times, and I can’t do anything but sit and wait.

“I’m still under review for a transplant but even if I do get one I have no idea where it will come from, because I still won’t be allowed a donor from Ireland or the UK.

“I’m being led down a path that leads nowhere.”

Before he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, Chris recalls rapidly losing weight.

It wasn’t until a routine blood appointment that he was told that an anomaly had been found in his blood which needed further investigation.

After multiple procedures, he was later diagnosed with PSC, a chronic liver disease that slowly damages the bile ducts.

Chris said: “At the start, I remember taking 12 tablets a day, which helped to keep my chronic illness at bay.

“I didn’t think much of it until I started to feel unwell six months ago.

“I began to show signs of jaundice and had been in and out of the hospital for the last three months.

“Three weeks ago, my wife and I were told that I needed a liver transplant.

“We were also told that further diagnosis was needed as they believed there might be something more.

“My world came closing in and our heads dropped – we had no idea what this could mean.

“On 21 March, my worst fears came true as they told me I also had cancer.

“I keep asking myself ‘what’s going to happen to my wife and daughter?’

“It’s horrible to say, but if I was to die, then I’m gone and I don’t have to worry about them.

“But my Jo will be left being as a single parent – I can’t bare thinking about it.”

Chris is trying to raise £250,000 in order to receive the life-saving operation abroad, in Switzerland or Ireland, and so far he has received £108,845 in donations in just a few weeks.

He is also researching cheaper options such as India and Turkey.

He added: “I still have a whole life to live and more memories to make.

“I’m the only one who can determine my next steps and I have two choices; I can either push and ask for help – to decide that this is it and give up.

“I have a family and I want to live, so there’s only one choice.”

Chris with a mask on while lying in a hospital bed.
Chris has received over £100,000 in donations in a matter of weeks (Picture: Jam Press)

Jam Press contacted NHS Blood & Transplant for comment, with a spokesperson saying: “Our hearts go out to Chris and his family.

“Even though many more lives are being saved thanks to donor families, there is still a tragic shortfall in donor organs.

“We have systems in place to ensure precious donated organs are best used to save and improve as many lives as possible.

“Patients may be listed for transplant based on a system of policies which are developed in conjunction with patients and patient groups, professional societies, and many other stakeholders through the NHSBT national advisory groups.

“These policies take into account many factors, including how much a patient might benefit from a particular donated organ. Some patients with some cancers are eligible for transplants.

“Hospital transplant units have the responsibility for making decisions whether an individual patient should be listed for transplant based on the policy for each organ.

“If a patient does not meet the accepted criteria the transplant unit may still appeal to the organ specific ‘National Appeals Panel’, which includes clinicians from other transplant centres to ensure that every potential transplant patient has had a fair review.

“All the transplant, donation and allocation policies are regularly reviewed and the changes implemented. This is a very complex process. The liver transplant eligibility policy is currently going through its latest review and implementation process. We will keep updating transplant centres on progress so that they can update their patients.

“Organ donation saves lives. We need more people to share their decision with their family – leave them certain.”