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Man not allowed on British Airways flight due to ‘damaged passport’ dies after missing blood transfusion

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A man who died waiting for travel documents in Jamaica should have been on flight back to London for a life-saving blood transfusion, claims his mum. Chaz Carl Powell, 41, from Camberwell, was due to fly from Montego Bay to London Gatwick on March 9 but his passport was rejected by British Airways staff at the check-in desk because he did not “match” his passport picture.

Chaz – who had sickle cell anaemia – had “put on weight” and “grown dreads” since his photo was taken, but mum Sandra Powell, 60, said “you can still tell it was him”. His passport was also “slightly damaged”. Chaz was due to have his six weekly blood transfusion as soon as he got home, but the missed flight meant he had to apply for emergency travel documents at the British Consulate instead. On March 12 he died of apparent organ failure after his health spiralled out of control.

He was visiting girlfriend Monique Allen, 30, who reported Chaz was “complaining of stomach aches” and “finding it difficult to eat” while he waited for new documents. She took him to Spanish Town Hospital but they were unable to resuscitate him. Police recorded it as ‘Sudden Death’, but they are still waiting for a post-mortem.

READ MORE: ‘I’ve had a blood transfusion every 3 weeks since I was 2 months old due to a rare disease that can kill people in their 30s’

Chaz’s passport was damaged but you can still make out his face and the other important information. He also had his undamaged driving license with him to show he was using his own documents.

People with sickle cell have “unusually shaped red blood cells” that cause painful episodes, serious risk of infections, and shortness of breath due to anaemia. The deadly disease means patients need regular blood transfusions and emergency treatment if their anaemia worsens. A sequestration crisis occurs when there is a pooling of blood in the liver or spleen which can lead to jaundice and acute chest syndrome, if this is left untreated without an emergency blood transfusion it can be fatal.

Sandra, who is a Southwark council officer, said: “I can’t talk about it, I do not even want to think about it. To know that he actually went on holiday and it’s something he would do on a regular basis. That should never have happened, they had no right to take control of my son’s life.”

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Chaz had severe jaundice in the days before he died indicating he may have had an “acute crisis” from his sickle cell disease

Crying and in “complete shock” she told MyLondon Chaz was a ‘helpful and caring’ son who would drive her around when she needed him, so much so “people thought he was my partner”. He was also close with his grandma and the pair always went to their hospital appointments together. Sandra added: “My mum has dementia, but when she sees all the flowers she keeps breaking down. I have to hide some of the cards so she will not read them.”

Sandra also said Chaz had emergency funding for a transfusion if he needed one, but claimed his death was brought on by the stress of having his passport rejected. “He had an arrangement for his nurse at Kings, as soon as he landed he would ring her for an appointment and come in to get his transfusion,” she added.

Chaz was on regular painkillers and treatment, but the photo he took for his new travel documents showed he was suffering severe jaundice just before he died. Cold, exercise, dehydration, and stress are all known to worsen symptoms of sickle cell.

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Sandra claims her son’s passport was rejected because he grew his hair out and put on a bit of weight

A British Airways spokesperson said: “We’re saddened to hear that one of our customers has passed away and our thoughts are with his friends and family at this difficult time. Airlines are required by law to ensure that all documents presented for travel are valid. While our airport team did what they could to help Mr Powell, unfortunately the photo page of his passport was so badly damaged it could no longer be regarded as a valid travel document.”

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Hello, I am a news reporter for MyLondon. I cover stories across the capital every day.

I qualified as a journalist last year and studied English and History at university, with a special interest in medieval London.

I love London because you’ve never seen it all. Also – all the food.

Some recent stories I am most proud of are this report on the killing of a restaurant owner in Elephant and Castle, this weird situation a Kings College student found herself in, and my review of eating a pig’s ear salad in Bloomsbury.

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