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Parents Block Son's Transplant, Fearing a Cult's Hold

A SYDNEY couple have blocked their son's attempt to donate a kidney as part of his membership of the Jesus Christians, a group critics have tagged "the kidney cult".

The trip of Ash Falkingham, 22, to Canada in March to donate one of his kidneys to a woman he met through the website Living Donors Online featured on ABC TV's Australian Story last night.

But ABC producers were yesterday forced to amend the program's conclusion after authorities at Toronto General Hospital decided on Saturday not to operate on Mr Falkingham.

His parents, of Enfield, had written to Ontario health authorities alerting them of their son's connection with the group.

Nineteen of the 30 members of the Jesus Christians have donated a kidney, believed by members to be the ultimate sacrifice.

Mr Falkingham's mother, Kate Croft, said her son contacted her last week requesting she write to the hospital supporting his decision.

"I didn't want to interfere but I also didn't want to lie. I emailed the hospital and said I doubted he could make independent decisions," she said yesterday.

"The problem I have is that donating a kidney seems to signify a level of seniority in the group.

"He has admitted they practice mind control but saysit is all right because of what they achieve."

Mr Falkingham has had limited contact with his parents since joining the group 3 1/2 years ago.

Started in Australia in the 1980s by David McKay- a former New Yorker who was briefly a member of the controversial 1960s Christian cult The Children of God - group members live nomadically, often in buses and cars, handing out pamphlets and Bible comics, and spurn bank accounts and material possessions.

Mr McKay said Mr Falkingham, who was due to arrive back in Sydney this morning, had not given up. "One of the things he wants to do is find a hospital here who will do the operation," Mr McKay said.

"He has made other attempts but been rejected for medical reasons ... this is the first time it had got to the stage where it was approved."

In Australia kidney donors and recipients must be related or able to prove long-term friendship.

Mr McKay said Mr Falkingham had spent three months with the recipient, Sandi Sabloff, a Canadian, who is now threatening legal action against the hospital.

"She is devastated and pretty angry," Mr McKay said.

"Ash is blaming his parents."

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