Mum’s lifesaving surgery stopped at last minute because of ‘unusual’ transaction

A mum’s lifesaving operation in America was cancelled as she was being prepped for surgery after her bank generated a fraud alert when she tried to pay doctors.

Samantha Smith, 32, says Barclays blocked the £250,000 transaction despite her pre-warning them it would be going ahead, causing the hospital to postpone the procedure.

She’d been laying in bed being prepped for the vital neuro-surgery at 5am local time on Friday when doctors delivered the devastating blow, Rochdale News reports.

The mum-of-two, from Smithy Bridge, near Rochdale in Manchester, had flown to Arizona for the operation to rebuild her neck, which has been weakened by Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.

She was diagnosed with the rare connective tissue disorder in 2017, and it has left her muscles too weak to hold her head upright without a brace, leaving her at risk of internal decapitation.

It has also caused pressure on her brain stem, BBC news reports, with the procedure to fuse her spine not offered or funded by the NHS.

Along with family and friends, psychotherapist Ms Smith crowdfunded the money needed – but the transaction was stopped by Barclays as she tried to pay for pre-surgery costs at The Mayo Clinic.

After battling with the bank for two hours, Ms Smith says they finally lifted the restrictions – by which time the hospital had cancelled the operation.

She said it was "rough" to have the surgery taken away from her, especially since she had the money to pay for it.

It had been booked in November last year and she is yet to receive a new date for her operation.

Speaking to Rochdale News she said: "To have it taken away over money, money that we’ve got… We’ve lost the surgical date.

"There’s been a complaint escalated with Barclays but that can take up to eight weeks for that to be sorted.

"I was on the phone to them for hours crying that I’d lost the date that it took months to get."

The mum, who is still in America, said she is hoping the hospital can rearrange the surgery during the time frame she is there so she doesn’t have to pay pre-surgery test costs for a second time.

A spokesman for Barclays said the bank takes safeguarding of its customers’ money and information "extremely seriously".

"We have a duty of care that transactions of an unusual nature are authenticated with the customer," he added.

"We have now established contact with the customer and are helping to resolve the matter so the payment can be processed as swiftly as possible."

The hospital could not contacted for comment.

On her GoFundMe page , launched in July 2018, Samantha describes her ‘battle for her own life’.

She wrote: "I must now fundraise for my own life and for my babies to have the mummy they so desperately need and deserve.

"I am in constant pain in my neck, head and spine and week in, week out my neurological damage is becoming harder to ignore."

The page continues: "In 2017, Samantha became very unwell very fast and neuro-surgeons discovered that the weight of her skull was causing her spine to collapse due to the tissue weakness.

"She lost her private psychotherapy clinic that she had worked hard to build and became bed ridden.

"Damage to her brain stem and spinal cord caused intermittent paralysis; she became wheelchair dependant & unable to be upright without agonising pain, and memory loss.

"She was at risk of internal decapitation.

"There were three surgeons worldwide able to complete the surgery she desperately needed in America. #SaveSamantha fundraising was a great success and Sam underwent three lifesaving surgeries in August and September 2017. 

"She learned to walk again, and researched and rehabilitated herself- due to no NHS assistance available for EDS patients with her condition in the UK."

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