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Homeless and awaiting a liver transplant: Charlie (6) says, I just want a house for Christmas


Helen with Charlie (left) and her eldest son Daniel

Helen with Charlie (left) and her eldest son Daniel

Helen with Charlie (left) and her eldest son Daniel

A CRITICALLY-ILL boy who can't get on a transplant list because his family is homeless has said he just wants "a house" for Christmas.

Helen Lynch, from Tullamore, Co Offaly, told Independent.ie yesterday that her son Charlie (6) is in the final stages of liver failure and will die without a transplant.

Ms Lynch, her social worker and a consultant at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, have all appealed to Offaly County Council to find the family a home.

“My son Charlie is entering the final stages of liver failure and urgently needs a liver transplant. He has no option but to have an urgent liver assessment and then to be placed on the liver transplant waiting list," she told Independent.ie

“The liver transplant must be carried out at King’s College Hospital, London. I am due to travel to London with Charlie next Tuesday December 2, where he will have his initial assessment before being placed on the live list.

“However as I am homeless, I have been informed by Charlie’s consultant at Crumlin Hospital, Dublin, that it will not be possible for Charlie to go on the transplant list.”

Without immediate permanent accommodation, Charlie cannot get the transplant and he will die, his mother claims.

Charlie has been ill since shortly after he was born - when his mother noticed that his belly was distended.

“When I fall on my belly it hurts," the youngster said, in an interview with RTE Radio, this morning.

The only cure is a liver transplant - but because he would be very prone to infection following a transplant, he must have suitable accommodation to recuperate.

At the moment, the family is staying with Ms Lynch's mother, who is in ill health, making the home unsuitable.

And his mother says it is proving impossible to convince any landlord to accept rent allowance, while there are 1,800 on the social housing waiting list in Offaly.

It’s hard to think that his life could be taken just for the sake of a house," Ms Lynch said.

Meanwhile, Charlie is preparing to go to London next week to visit medics - and Christmas also looms large. 

“I have to go get an operation, I get blood tests. When I get blood tests I get stickers," he said.

When asked what he would like for Christmas, he said: "A house... I’d have bunk beds and a few toys".

The boy's consultant, Prof Billy Bourke, also wrote council chiefs to highlight his plight.

“I must emphasise that this boy will die if he does not undergo a liver transplant and without immediate permanent accommodation he can not get a transplant," he wrote in a letter, which was read on Midlands Radio by Ms Lynch's social worker Sandra McDonagh.

"This therefore has become an issue of life or death for Charlie.

“I would urge that some form of suitable permanent accommodation be found immediately for him in order to ensure his survival.”

Dermot Mahon, senior executive officer in Offaly County Council's housing department, said officials are currently dealing with a waiting list of 1,850 applications.

"We don't comment on individual applications, however we are aware of this situation and we are actively trying to secure accommodation for her," he said.

Sandra McDonagh, of Offaly Traveller Movement, has met with the medical team in Crumlin Hospital and has been advocating on their behalf.

Ms McDonagh said the family need a permanent address to control infections and so medics can contact them when a liver becomes available, and for recuperation after surgery.

"Accommodation is crisis point in the area, but this is the worst case we've come across because it's a matter of life or death."

Our Lady's Children's Hospital said in the interests of patient confidentiality, it cannot comment on an individual case.

However it stressed that time frames for organ transplantation are very short and it is imperative that patients can be contacted and brought to hospital as quickly as possible.

"Where travel to the UK is involved, there are even greater time pressures," a spokesman said.

"Patients who are placed on an organ transplant waiting list require a transport plan, to ensure they can get to hospital without delay.

"In order to put in place a transport plan, the family must have a permanent address to ensure they are contactable and suitable arrangements agreed for the area they are living in.

"It is also imperative that the patient is able to return home to a setting where they will be able to receive post transplantation after care."



Online Editors