Rochdale mum's surgery halted over 'unusual transaction'

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Media captionSamantha Smith said she was trying to remain positive

A mum's lifesaving £250,000 neuro-surgery was put on hold after her bank generated a fraud alert when she tried to pay doctors.

Samantha Smith had travelled from Rochdale to Arizona for the operation to rebuild her neck, which has been weakened by Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

Ms Smith said Barclays blocked the transfer of funds despite being told in advance, causing the postponement.

The bank said it had a duty of care to check unusual transactions.

Ms Smith said she hoped the operation would be rescheduled shortly.

Image copyright Samantha Smith
Image caption Ehlers Danlos Syndrome has left tissue in Ms Smith's neck too weak to support her skull, putting pressure on her brain stem

The 32-year-old was diagnosed with the rare connective tissue disorder in 2017.

It has left mother-of-two Ms Smith's neck muscles too weak to hold her head upright without the use of a neck brace and caused pressure on her brain stem.

The procedure to fuse the bones in her spine is not offered or funded by the NHS and Ms Smith had raised £250,000 through crowdfunding and events to travel to The Mayo Clinic for surgery.

Barclays halted a transaction as she was attempting to pay pre-surgery costs for an operation on Friday.

Image copyright Samantha Smith
Image caption Ms Smith said she spent two and half hours on the phone to the bank
Image caption Ms Smith said she hoped surgery at The Mayo Clinic in Arizona would be rescheduled soon

Ms Smith spent two-and-a-half hours on the phone to the bank but the lifting of restrictions on her account came too late for the clinic, which had by then cancelled the operation.

She said it had been "rough" to have the surgery "taken away over money that we've got" but was trying to stay positive for her children.

A bank spokesman said it had a duty of care to check unusual transactions with its customers.

"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," added the spokesman.

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