Friday 19 January 2018

Couple must take deaf son to UK for surgery after hospital refuses donor's €20,000 offer

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A DEAF boy has been told to travel to the UK for a life-changing operation despite an anonymous donor offering to pay for his €20,000-plus surgery here.

Liam Cunneen-McCormack (6) has been refused the surgery in Dublin because of a funding impasse between the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Beaumont Hospital.

His parents, Julie and Keith, have slated the HSE's treatment of their son after he was initially told by a medic that his hearing was normal.

The full extent of his deafness was not discovered until he was 17 months old.

His parents were told a double or bilateral cochlear transplant offered him the best chance of some form of hearing.

In Ireland, funding issues have limited children to a cochlear implant in just a single ear. In countries like the UK, US and Australia implants in both ears are regarded as best practice.

The Cork-based family was informed last December that because of funding issues, Liam's second surgery could not go ahead.

Julie, who is also deaf, revealed that the family were astounded when an anonymous donor contacted them to offer to pay for the second implant.

But the family was informed on February 27 that Liam's procedure still cannot go ahead.

Demands

In a letter from Beaumont Hospital the family was told the precedent was unacceptable.

"(We) have discussed Liam's case with the HSE and until we are funded for this level of service, we are, regrettably, not in a position to perform second implants," the letter stated.

"There are a significant number of children seeking bilateral implants and if we were to make exceptions . . . it would no doubt lead to demands from other parents that we would be unable to meet.

"The HSE and (the hospital) believe that the best option would be for you to organise to have the implant done at a UK centre."

Julie said the family were stunned by the refusal from the hospital.

"What the HSE are doing is absolutely inhumane," she said.

Irish Independent

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