Six-year-old Carlton Ashman and his
sister, four-year-old Sarah, were secretly fathered by Charlie Lowden, who died
after a hernia operation. At the
age of 15, Lowden donated sperm to Claire Ashman, 31, the civil partner of his
aunt, Sarah Ashman. His donation enabled her to fall pregnant and a few years
later they asked for his help again.
The couple had agreed to keep the donations
a secret, but Lowden's death forced his aunt to reveal the identities of the
children to her sister, Lynn.
Sarah Ashman, who entered a civil
partnership with Claire after a 13-year relationship, told the Daily Telegraph:
'Charles was very special to me. He was great. When he died, it was our secret.
But I had to tell Lynn. I couldn't go through life not telling her because they
are her grandchildren'.
Mrs Lowden and her husband took legal action
against Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust after their son's death. Charlie Lowden became seriously ill ten days after
a routine hernia operation performed at Hexham General Hospital in November
He was rushed to Wansbeck General Hospital but discharged the following day. He had been vomiting blood
and doctors misdiagnosed a post-operative blood clot as a suspected chest
The Trust has agreed to pay
a total of £85,000 in compensation following a settlement of the medical negligence claim. The Ashmans' children have both been given a trust fund of £35,000, which they will
receive once they turn 18.
Mrs Lowden said: 'We didn't want to
accept their offer because, at first, they refused to acknowledge the kids.
[...] We told them we would accept an offer if they recognised them, which
they have now done'.
A Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
spokesman said: 'We are deeply saddened by the death of Mr Lowden and wish to
again express our sympathies to his family at this difficult time. Whilst a
settlement has been made, we recognise it will not compensate the family for