Leeds kidney patient denied benefits is back at work

Michael Stillwell.
Michael Stillwell.
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A kidney transplant patient who was unable to claim benefits while recovering has been forced to go back to work to pay for vital medication.

As revealed in the Yorkshire Evening Post, Michael Stillwell was unable to get regular Employment and Support Allowance.

The 24-year-old said financial problems had left him facing bankruptcy.

Now he has gone back to work as an electrician – despite doctors wanting him to take more time off to recover.

Mr Stillwell said: “I couldn’t afford the prescriptions. I don’t want to be sponging off my mum and dad.”

Mr Stillwell, from Robin Hood, Leeds, became unwell three years ago when he was playing professional rugby for Hunslet Hawks. In 2010 he started dialysis treatment and last August had a kidney transplant at St James’s, with an organ donated by his younger brother, Lewis.

However, after complications he needed another operation last December.

Doctors wanted him to take three months off to recover but he was unable to sort out benefits because the Department for Work and Pensions says it has not received a form, which Mr Stillwell is adamant he has sent. His local MP, Ed Balls, has now taken up his case.

However, he has been touched by support from Hunslet Warriors Under-18s, where he played as a youngster.

Los Baker, Hunslet Warriors chairman, said they were saddened by Michael’s difficulties. Tomorrow (March 4), at the under-18s’ home match, there will be a pitch collection and raffle for him.

Mr Baker said: “Whilst times are hard for a lot of people at present, I know that the club, along with the people of Hunslet, will be as generous as always and dig deep to help this young man and contribute in any way they can.”

More fundraising will take place when the Warriors first team play their first league home game of the season against Stanley Rangers on March 17.

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