Dagenham lad's mum tells of tragic loss

THE TRAGIC death of Gary Reinbach from cirrhosis of the liver at 22 has sparked a wave of sympathy for a popular young man who fell pray to the deadly illness of alcoholism. He was like a big bear. Not perfect. But a warm person, who deserved a second c

THE TRAGIC death of Gary Reinbach from cirrhosis of the liver at 22 has sparked a wave of sympathy for a popular young man who fell pray to the deadly illness of alcoholism.

"He was like a big bear. Not perfect. But a warm person, who deserved a second chance at life" said his mum, Madeline Hanshaw.

Gary, of Ibscott Close, Dagenham, died on July 19 after being denied a liver transplant.

His mum is still struggling to understand why NHS health chiefs, who took the decision, couldn't make an exception for her son.


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Gary did not comply with the strict criteria, which requires a drying out spell of six months before an organ is donated.

Madeline, 44, said:

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"He was so young. I really think he would have turned his life around if he'd been given the chance. You should have seen him at the hospital; he did everything the doctors asked him to do."

"But those people at the top, who decided he wasn't allowed a liver transplant, they never came to talk to Gary; to see how determined he was to change."

"I think they wanted to make an example of him. But I bet that if it had been their son they wouldn't have felt the same."

Madeline, a single mum, who lives with Gary's two brothers Luke, 18, and Tyler, 16, says her oldest son began drinking at the age of 13.

"It was not long after his father and I split up. He started hanging out with these older kids from another school. He was a teenager, so easily influenced I guess."

"But it wasn't really until he was 16 that he started drinking regularly and by 18 he was drinking heavily."

Madeline admits that during the last couple of years of his life, Gary, a former Sydney Russell pupil, needed to drink to get himself out of bed in the morning.

The kitchen assistant says she did make a number of attempts to curb her son's drinking.

"When he was younger I tried grounding him, but on one occasion he ran away for three days, so I never did that again and getting angry at him didn't work either.

"After he turned 18 it was even more difficult, because he was an adult and I couldn't tell him what to do."

Madeline says she first noticed he was ill in November last year. "He started shaking a lot, so I persuaded him to go to his GP.

"The doctor said he should cut down on the alcohol, which he did for a while. But then he felt better and began drinking more again."

Around three months before his death Gary told Madeline his "insides were hurting."

"I begged and begged him to go to the hospital then. Eventually he agreed, and we went to Queens. He thought they would treat him and send him home the same day."

But Gary didn't go home the same day. The youngster was admitted to hospital and told his liver was so damaged that without a transplant he only had 30 per cent chance of survival.

After three weeks at Queens, Gary was transferred to University College London.

"The doctors there were fantastic, and did everything they could to try and save his life. They really wanted to give him a proper transplant, but the NHS bosses wouldn't allow it."

Gary's health deteriorated quickly, and despite the medical team's best efforts he died in a critical care unit ten days ago.

His funeral was held yesterday at Eastbrookend Cemetry in Dagenham.

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