Sunday 19 November 2017

HSE U-turn lets dad get life-saving surgery in US

Denis O'Callaghan, his wife Julie and their children Deon (8) and Julianna (5) of Glanmire, Co Cork
Denis O'Callaghan, his wife Julie and their children Deon (8) and Julianna (5) of Glanmire, Co Cork
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THE HSE made a dramatic U-turn yesterday and vowed to partly fund a life-saving cancer operation in the United States for a father of two.

The HSE's Treatment Abroad Scheme (TAS) had initially denied funding for the operation for Denis O'Callaghan (48) under an overseas treatment programme.

The decision left Denis and his wife Julie facing a desperate 14-day campaign to raise €100,000 to pay for the pioneering throat surgery in Boston.

The family went to the media with their plight -- and outlined a hectic fundraising campaign.

However, within 24 hours of the TAS refusal, another arm of the agency, the HSE-South, intervened and agreed to part-finance the surgery.


It contacted the relieved O'Callaghan family yesterday to confirm their support -- with the funding set to be guaranteed in writing today.

His wife Julie said: "We are relieved but we're still waiting to see the confirmation in writing today."

She added: "No matter what, we're determined to get Denis treatment in the US for his sake, for the family's sake and for the sake of the children, Deon (8) and Julianna (5)."

It is understood that the HSE will pay 50pc of the €100,000 operation with their private health insurer paying the other 50pc. Denis, from Glanmire, Co Cork, has until August 25 to ensure the money is paid to Massachusetts General Hospital.

He is scheduled to undergo surgery for a malignant tracheal (throat) tumour on August 30 by world-renowned consultant, Dr Douglas Mathisen.

The US surgeon is the only doctor in the world who undertakes the type of procedure that Denis -- who had tracheal cancer 30 years ago -- now requires.

Denis had 50pc of his trachea removed but has lived a fit and healthy life since then. The upcoming surgery to remove the tumour will require reconstruction of his trachea.

Last night, the HSE-South said it will fund the surgery because the scheme does not apply to hospital treatment outside the EU and Switzerland.

"The application unfortunately did not meet the criteria of the TAS. However, they referred the case to the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) with a view to identifying alternative sources of funding," a HSE spokesman explained.

"The NCCP referred the case to the HSE-South on Monday and, having discussed the case with the referring consultant, a decision to provide the balance of the funding (with the patient's health insurer) was made," the spokesman added.

Irish Independent

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