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Saving Lives With Spare Parts


IT IS 7.45am on a cold but bright April morning at Ladywell running track where the Jesus Christians start each day. Because of their strict lifestyle criteria there are only 25 members in the world, 12 of whom live in Catford.

I am here to find out why they are willing to undergo a major operation, lose a potentially vital organ and risk six months behind bars for someone they have never met.

There is just one runner on the track when I arrive Susan Ellis, 33, who has been a Jesus Christian for 15 years.

She lives with her husband, Roland, and son, Daniel, in a caravan next to the track. She has given away the material possessions she does not need and is now planning to give away her spare kidney.

She says: "In The Bible Jesus says: "Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:33.

"Many Christians today are sacrificing Christian values to fit into society. We believe Christianity should not be watered down.

"The rules of society and the rules of Jesus are opposed so we are forced to be criminals. Saving someone's life is a logical thing to do when you have something spare."

Another of the Catford Jesus Christians, Australian-born Robin Dunn, 36, went under the knife in America, on February 21. He is just now able to laugh without a pain where his kidney once was.

He said: "During Roman times Christians were thrown to the lions for their beliefs. Our sacrifice is not near as much as theirs.

"Most people would risk their lives for someone they don't know. If they saw a child in the road they would run out to try to save it.

"Jesus said we should make our bodies a living sacrifice and that is our reasonable service to God."

Casey Crouch, 23, who donated his kidney on the same day as Mr Dunn, said: "When I had it done, it hurt whenever I laughed or sneezed for six weeks afterwards but I don't have any regrets at all."

Despite their good intentions, the Jesus Christians are unable to legally give away their kidneys to strangers in Britain. Under British law you are only allowed to give someone an organ if they are a family member or a lifelong friend.

But at least three of the group have donated kidneys to patients in America. In an attempt to help Britons they have left cards carrying their details hidden in magazines in hospitals around London.

They say they are prepared to risk a custodial sentence to circumvent the law by pretending to be a patient's life-long friend.

But they may not have to go that far. After many requests the Department of Health (DoH) is considering making it legal to make altruistic donations.

A spokesman for the DoH said: "The department will issue a consultation document looking into a fundamental review of the law in the near future."

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