Transplant man’s ban is lifted

MAGISTRATES in Hartlepool have overturned a drink-driver’s three-year ban after hearing he is on 24-hour call for a life-changing kidney and pancreas transplant.

Transplant register patient Jonathan Farrell appeared before the court to urge justices to lift the three-year disqualification he received for driving while being almost twice the drink drive limit in October 2010.

Since the 30-year-old received the ban, which expires in nine months, doctors uncovered serious health complications which have left Farrell on the transplant register awaiting a dual transplant of a kidney and pancreas. The organs also have to be from the same donor.

Justices were told it means at any point during the day or night he could be telephoned by medics to get himself to hospital immediately for the operation to get the new organs and to be able to drive himself there would be a “God-send”.

He also has to have regular kidney dialysis and tests at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, and the Freeman Hospital, in Newcastle.

But the numerous appointments he has to keep are causing transport problems as members of his family and friends are repeatedly having to take time off work to get him there.

His solicitor Barry Gray told the magistrates: “Matters became problematic for my client when he returned from a trip to Egypt last year.

“He is diabetic and due to his health problems he went to see the doctor and medical advisor said he needs a kidney transplant as he has kidney failure and needs dialysis.

“He is now on the transplant list at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

“But there are more complications that have been identified in that he also has pancreatic problems which means that a transplant has be of a very particular type before he could undergo such an operation. It has to be a dual transplant, a kidney and pancreas from one person.”

He added: “He is here today to ask for his driving licence back as he is having trouble getting to all of his appointments, and it is now increasing because of the severity of the condition.

“Some times he has to drop everything and go to hospital to have himself checked out if he gets headaches or any abdominal pains. He’s not in a very good condition at all.

“He has to rely on a mixture of friends, family and public transport and inevitably this causes increasing stress which he is advised can aggravate the symptoms. This man is facing a considerable and deteriorating situation.”

Farrell, of Front Street, Hutton Henry, on the outskirts of Hartlepool, told the court that the transport issue “causes lots of arguments, it shouldn’t but it unfortunately does”.

He added: “I haven’t drunk alcohol for several months.”

Prosecuting, Kate Hills told magistrates that there was no “aggravating” factors to the case except it was Farrell’s second drink driving conviction within 10 years.

His current ban was made by Eden Magistrates’ Court for having 67 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath.

Chairman of the magistrates’ bench Nigel Guerin decided to lift the ban and told Farrell: “There’s been a very big change in your circumstances and lifestyle and we are going to lift the ban from this Friday.”

Farrell replied: “Thank you.”