Widow’s anguish over organ blunder

Sarah Mann with a photo of Stuart Mann
Sarah Mann with a photo of Stuart Mann

THE widow of a man killed in a tragic motorbike crash has told of her pain at being unable to donate his organs after a communications blunder.

Sarah Mann, 61, of Tenterden Rise, was at her husband Stuart’s side when doctors turned off his life support machine. As he was a registered organ donor, Mrs Mann then trusted her husband’s organs would be able to be used to save another life. But the police say a conversation did not take place with East Sussex Coroner Alan Craze to allow him to give permission for the organs to be used. “I felt disappointed and frustrated,” said Mrs Mann. “The system is just so out of date. Stuart would have wanted to help somebody else live after him; that’s why he had a donor card. And we weren’t able to do that.”

Mrs Mann’s heartache began on June 30 last year when her husband sustained fatal injuries when his motorbike was in collision with a car on the A21 in Marley Lane, Battle.

Mr Mann, who was 66, was airlifted to King’s College Hospital in south London but died a few hours later.

Mrs Mann was told several of his organs could be used to save the lives of others but permission to donate his organs was needed from the East Sussex coroner because of where the accident happened.

However a conversation did not take place between the investigating police officer and the Coroner to assess if organ donation could go ahead.

Mrs Mann, a retired creche worker, added: “After filling in all the consent forms and waiting for hours for a decision it was just so frustrating when we were told it could not go ahead.

“The system is just so out of date. Why can’t the nearest Coroner make a decision or someone on the spot. We just don’t have the time to waste.

“In this day and age there has to be a more efficient way of dealing with situations like this. It is so disappointing to think that Stuart’s organs could have saved somebody’s life if they got them in time.”

Chief inspector Natalie Maloney of Sussex Police’s Road Policing Unit said: “When the Coroner’s office in Southwark contacted Sussex Police control centre the investigating officer was still at the scene of the collision investigating the circumstances.

“This investigation was in its initial stages and there was a second driver who was receiving medical care.

“Many enquiries were being made to ensure that all possible evidence was captured so that an assessment could be made as to whether a prosecution might follow.

“At this stage guidance was given to the Coroner’s office that organ donation could not be agreed at this time as evidence was still being gathered. The current national guidance says that if someone is charged with an offence then organ donation should not go ahead without first obtaining the view of the defendant or their legal representation.

“Ultimately, though, it is the Coroner’s decision.

“However, shortly after the initial investigation I would expect a conversation regarding the circumstances to take place between the investigating officer and the Coroner or a Coroner’s officer to assess if organ donation could take place.

“It appears this did not happen and I will be putting in place some local changes to our practices which will hopefully prevent this from happening again.

“A national review by ACPO is also taking place looking at how we deal with deaths on the roads. I will feed our learning regarding cross-border liaison from this case into the national review.

“This is a very unfortunate case and I apologise if the family feel let down that an appropriate conversation did not take place.”

Neither the Coroner for Inner London or East Sussex was available to comment.