UP to 200 people who suffer from uncontrolled epilepsy, and are at the mercy of frequent seizures, will benefit annually from a new unit in Dublin's Beaumont Hospital, giving them a new lease of life.
The facility, opened by Health Minister James Reilly yesterday, will allow them to have their condition investigated by specialists who can diagnose the right type of surgery or drug treatment to bring the condition under control.
However, they can face a year on a waiting list before admission. The hope is that a similar long-delayed unit will start as promised in Cork University Hospital at the end of March.
Dr Reilly said he would be concerned at any more delays in opening the unit in Cork.
"This can be life-changing and also life-saving. These units will offer hope to thousands," he added.
Prof Norman Delanty, a consultant neurologist in Beaumont, said he hoped the four-bed unit will mean the days of sending patients abroad for the service is gone.
Nearly 40,000 adults and children in Ireland have epilepsy and for one-third of that it is uncontrolled. Some can have several seizures a day.
"The patients who are admitted are investigated by continuous EEG which records electrical impulses from the nerves in the head. There is also video monitoring on a 24-hour basis and it typically takes five to eight days," said Prof Delanty.