An Irish family expressed outrage at having to take out an eleventh-hour, €30,000-plus bank loan to pay for a two-year-old's operation in Italy as they accused the HSE of reneging on a support pledge.
Little Josh Butler will undergo pioneering ear surgery in Verona tomorrow but only because his family were able to raise the €37,500 deposit themselves, just days before the procedure.
Josh's grandmother, Celine Walsh, told the Irish Independent the operation would have been cancelled if the €37,500 had not been paid.
The family took out a bank loan of €30,000 after the HSE suddenly indicated it would not make the payment.
"We are shocked and appalled that any Irish family could be treated like this," Ms Walsh said.
Josh's mother Chloe, from Midleton, Co Cork, had campaigned for 18 months to secure the surgery for her son, who was born deaf.
"It is now his only chance to hear," Chloe said.
The procedure by retiring surgeon Vittorio Colletti is called Auditory Brain Stem Implant (ABI).
When the family asked the HSE to pay the deposit to the Italian hospital, they were told there was a problem as it was a private and not public facility.
"The Treatment Abroad Scheme (TAS) does not generally provide for treatment in a private facility if the service is available in a public hospital," a HSE spokesperson said.