MONCTON, N.B. -- A New Brunswick mother said she was heartbroken again when she was told she won't be able to donate a kidney to her sick baby boy after a review panel maintained a previous decision preventing her from acting as a donor.

Ashley Barnaby said from her home in Moncton that an official with the living donor clinic at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Halifax informed her of the final decision Friday.

It came weeks after the hospital had rejected her first bid to get approval to donate one of her kidneys to her son, 19-month-old Zaccari Buell who has heart issues and suffers from a kidney condition called congenital nephrotic syndrome.

"It was devastating all over again and although we knew there was a very slim chance that they would ever overrule it, we held our hopes up," she said.

"It's just hard because as a mother you just want to be able to do whatever you can to help your children."

Barnaby said she is awaiting a full explanation for the decision, adding that she had been told previously that the procedure could put her future health at risk because she is young and had health issues before.

Everton McLean, a spokesman for the hospital, was not able to comment on the matter because of privacy concerns.

Last year, Barnaby underwent a three-month assessment process that included multiple blood and urine tests, an abdominal ultrasound, electrocardiogram, a lengthy mental health screening and kidney tests.

Barnaby said she disclosed her previous health issues and First Nations ethnicity in a questionnaire at the beginning of the process, but was told months later that those traits made her ineligible.

The 28-year-old, who also has a seven-year-old son, maintains that the risk to herself is small compared to the kind of complete change the transplant would bring Buell, who has spent much of his young life at hospitals in Nova Scotia and now requires 12 hours of dialysis daily at home due to stage-four renal failure.

Dr. Christine Dipchand, the medical director of the living kidney donation program, has previously said that national and international guidelines are used to assess living kidney donors with the purpose of ensuring donor safety.

Barnaby said Buell is on the transplant list and she believes it won't take long before a suitable match is found.

"Every day I wake up thinking, 'Maybe today's the day that we'll get a call,"' she said. "And then every night it's a little bit heartbreaking to go to bed knowing that it didn't happen."

- By Alison Auld in Halifax