Wednesday 23 August 2017

Teen sits tall after mystery donor funds back surgery

Shane Hickey

A TEENAGER with a severe back deformity is now sitting four inches taller following a series of operations on his spine -- made possible by an anonymous donor.

Jason Slevin (18), from Roscrea, Co Tipperary, yesterday emerged from hospital after eight weeks of treatment for an ailment related to scoliosis, which had left him in pain for the last three years.

A donor came forward to pay for the facilities but until then, Mr Slevin was one of a large number of young people on waiting lists for spinal surgery.

He has undergone three operations -- one of them lasting 10 hours -- since the middle of June. His mother Terena said he now sits taller in his wheelchair and huge pressure has been taken off one of his lungs.

He was due to have the procedure in January but Tallaght Hospital had to stop the operations due to a lack of funding.

They were carried out for free by surgeon Pat Kiely in the Blackrock Clinic while theatres and other back-ups were paid for by the anonymous donor.

"He looks absolutely brilliant and is about three or four inches taller. It is unreal to look at him," Ms Slevin said. "Jason will be pain-free and so much more upright in the chair.

"He will be able to take part in a lot of things now. He does basketball with the Irish Wheelchair Association and up to now wasn't really able to play it properly because he was bent over so much. He is looking forward to going back to that."

His mother now hopes he will graduate from his special needs school in Tullamore in September, before going on work placement.

Ms Slevin said the donor had been present in the hospital for the first procedure but she had never met him. She is hugely grateful for the donation.

Treatment

However, she said that had the operation been able to proceed as scheduled, her son's condition would not have deteriorated and required as many hours in the operating theatre.

Health Minister James Reilly has said he was concerned with the number of people waiting for the treatment of spinal injuries and acknowledged this could worsen their conditions.

Last night a spokesman for the minister said he had spoken to a number of people within the HSE. He intends to have a plan in place by September with the aim of reducing or eliminating the waiting times.

Irish Independent

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