February 25, 2024


The ethical dilemmas involved in allocating organs for transplants became painfully real in the UK after a Nigerian woman who had overstayed her visa died while waiting for a heart transplant. Ese Elizabeth Alabi, 29, had been given lower priority in the queues for a heart because she was not an EU national. Ms Alabi came to Britain last September already pregnant with twins. She had a return ticket, but fell ill before giving birth. By the time her visa expired, she was already too ill to return to her country. She died as her lawyers fought to have her case placed on a high priority list. Her lawyer said she was a victim of new rules discouraging health tourism.

A Department of Health spokesman described her case as an “extremely sad and difficult process”. However, he said, “Organs for transplant, and hearts in particular, are extremely scarce and it is necessary to have clear rules to establish priorities in their allocation. Whilst no person is wholly excluded from receiving an organ, priority is given to those who are entitled to [National Health System] treatment.”