Tuesday 24 October 2017

Father taking future transport into own hands

Mark Hilliard

MEADHBH McGivern's father last night vowed to have his own private arrangements in place to airlift his sick daughter to the UK the next time a liver becomes available.

Joe McGivern said his family's confidence in the Irish medical system had been shattered by the failure to organise transport for his daughter to the UK for a vital transplant.

His stance has been vindicated by yesterday's announcement that a full inquiry is to be launched into the incident.

Speaking from his family home in Co Leitrim, Mr McGivern said the traumatic incident had destroyed his faith in the Health Service Executive (HSE) and that he had contacted a private medical aviation company to prevent a repeat of the debacle.

"I thought we would start making these (transport) plans ourselves because we can't go through that again," he told the Irish Independent.

"It's the nature of the beast that people will just lie down and hope that things will just work. Well I won't and, by God, I will have my own arrangements in place (next time)."

As the fallout from the HSE's failure to find transportation for Meadhbh continues this week, the McGiverns say they have now identified a number of options that were open to them on Saturday, but that were not utilised.

Mr McGivern said that if the Air Corp's G4 jet was used, the family would have touched down in London at 1am, one hour clear of the deadline.

And despite the Coast Guard's initial response that they had no aircraft ready, the McGiverns say the Sligo unit eventually tasked with their transportation had not been contacted and could have been ready earlier.

"They said to us, 'we have been sitting here all the time'," Mr McGivern said.

"Am I supposed to sit back and hope that the system is going to work next time around?" he asked.

Yesterday, after the family went public with their experience, Mr McGivern contacted the private aviation firm Aeromedevac Ireland which told him it was on the HSE emergency list and would have been available.


Confusion over what options could have been used and why they were not continues in the McGivern household. But they are taking no more chances.

Apart from securing their own transport for the next time a liver becomes available, he said the family were also considering moving Meadhbh to London so they wouldn't have to rely on the same system.

"It was one of the suggestions that came up (in the past): would it be feasible to move to London? At the time we were told no, we didn't need to do that, because these measures are in place," he said.

"At this stage, considering what happened, we have to be open-minded and consider everything."

Even a phone call from Health Minister James Reilly yesterday was not enough to reassure the family. "He apologised for what happened. He said there will now be a full inquiry to see what went wrong," Mr McGivern said.

"He said he would undertake personally to make sure that something like this would never happen again."

For now, though, that's a chance the family are not willing to take.

Irish Independent

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