'Please minister, can I have my op?' - desperate plea of 12-year-old in pain
Twelve-year-old scoliosis sufferer Sarah-Ann Clyne-Mitchell has asked Health Minister Simon Harris to arrange a date for an operation.
Sarah-Ann, of Ballybrack, Co Dublin, sent an email to Mr Harris on Thursday night, after she could no longer bear the pain she has suffered for months.
Sarah-Ann's case appeared on the RTÉ's 'Prime Time'.
Her mother, Karen, (40) said Sarah-Ann was compelled to act after she felt "ignored".
"Sarah-Ann knew that Mr Harris said two weeks ago in the Dáil he'd meet me. My TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, openly asked him to and he said he would and that promise was televised," she said. "She told me she'd emailed the minister. She asked him 'Can I have my operation please?'"
Ms Clyne-Mitchell broke down in tears describing the act of desperation.
"The HSE is ignoring mothers and children like Sarah-Ann, who are living in pain every day," she said.
"Mr Harris knows he is dealing with a poisoned chalice in the HSE and if only he would be the first minister to admit it, that the system is broken.
"If this man wants to become taoiseach and if he does become taoiseach, he is leaving this problem again for someone else to fix and they won't do it either. I'd argue he isn't fit to become the leader of our country if he can't help our children."
The talented Irish dancer was diagnosed in July with a 50-degree curvature of the spine. By December, after her mother paid for a private X-ray, she was horrified to find it had worsened to 60 degrees.
"It had got so much worse and still we aren't on the waiting list. We only got a call the other day saying Sarah-Ann's file would be transferred to the Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital," she said. "But we don't know when Sarah-Ann will have an operation."
The schoolgirl is going to receive her Confirmation in April. Even that milestone is just another reminder of how "different she is to the other girls", her mother said.
"She's a beautiful girl. She's so strong and intelligent too, but hates being different to the others.
"It breaks my heart. I'm her mother, how can I watch her in pain like this - and I can do nothing to help?"
A spokesperson for Mr Harris said he is planning to meet with Karen and that the department will be in touch shortly to arrange a date.
"He is very concerned about patients waiting in pain, and has placed a special focus on addressing the waiting times for patients with scoliosis that so drastically affect children like Sarah-Ann," the spokesperson said.