A TEENAGE cancer sufferer has spoken of the horrific conditions in Our Lady's Children's Hospital where she regularly endured the undignified ordeal of using a commode in a cramped ward beside other patients and their families.
While undergoing gruelling cancer treatment which would often leave her severely sick and open to infection, Mariosa Churchard was forced to share a room with another patient on a ward with one toilet.
Speaking to Sunday Independent, the brave 14-year-old girl from Drimnagh, Dublin, told how her debilitating condition was worsened by the humiliating conditions in the children's hospital.
She said: "I would share the room with another person. There could be 16 or 17 kids on the ward and they would all have to share the same bathroom.
"If you aren't well enough to go to the bathroom you bring a commode into your room. All you can do is pull over the curtain and the person in the same room as you could have visitors in with them. You can tell your own visitors that you need to go to the toilet but you can't ask someone else's visitors to leave. It's really awkward."
The hospital's dedicated in-patient cancer ward can at a squeeze fit 19 sick children into 10 rooms which were intended for single usage.
The hospital sees 200 new young cancer patients annually while it treats 1,800 children for chemotherapy each year.
Yet the ward, which has not been renovated since the late Eighties, has only one toilet area for the attending severely sick children.
Professor Owen Smith, consultant paediatric haematologist at Crumlin, described the infrastructure as "totally inappropriate for these kids".
He said: "It's not too bad for the smaller kids because they're not really conscious of it all, but if you have a 14-year-old whose guts are falling out because of chemotherapy and they have to use the commode 20 times a day and you're shifting it in and out. It's just not on.
He added: "We are now living in the era of superbugs and all of these bugs can be fatal to kids with low immune systems."
The shocking revelation comes as the hospital appeals for public donations to expand the cancer ward for young patients because the Government cannot afford the cost.
Prof Smith called on the public and any institution with some extra cash to give what they can so the hospital can continue its expansion.
He said: "The children's hospital is not going to be ready for at least five years and the country is on its knees fiscally so we don't want help from the Government, we want it from the citizens of this country and we want it from the institutions.
"Not everyone is completely broke and if there is a cause to back this is the one."
Mariosa, who was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer a year ago, has nothing but praise for the hospital staff. However, the condition of the hospital ward did not give her any comfort during her illness.