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Thursday 18 July 2019

'It's like a thunderbolt' - husband of cervical cancer scandal victim says her grandchildren think she's coming home for Christmas

Husband of cervical cancer scandal victim wants 'justice' following his wife's death

(Stock image)
(Stock image)
Rory Tevlin

Rory Tevlin

The husband of one of the victims of the cervical cancer scandal has said he wants "justice" for his late wife.

Mother-of-four Julie O'Reilly (60) passed away on October 6 due to complications from cancer.

Her death came just months after she was informed by the HSE that she was one of the 221 women who were caught up in the CervicalCheck controversy.

Evidence of pre-cancerous cells was missed in four previous smear tests Julie had taken between 2009 and 2010.

She was first diagnosed with cancer in 2017 while one of her daughters was undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

Her husband Tony O'Reilly has said that when they were told in June that she was one of the 221 women affected it felt like they had been struck by a "thunderbolt".

Speaking to RTÉ's Morning Ireland today, Tony said he wanted answers.

In an emotional interview, he also choked back tears as he described how his grandchildren think their granny will be coming home for Christmas.

"I am looking for answers, we're all looking for answers. I want justice for Julie," he said.

"I want somebody to take the blame for this.

"I want to make sure no other family has to go through what we have gone through."

He continued: "We weren't that aware of what it was at the time, what she had, or what was diagnosed was secondary cancer or tumour on her leg and we didn't know what the primary cancer was at the time.

"It wasn't until June of this year that we had a call, or Julie had a call from the HSE asking her to get in contact, that they'd like to speak to her. The bombshell hit."

Tony said he and his wife were left "heartbroken" by the news.

"It hits you like a thunderbolt.

"You think to yourself, what is going to happen?

"You don't want to think the worst but there is always that at the back of your mind.

"[Julie] tried to make the best of everything.

"Deep down I think she was very, very concerned and she did have her dark moments and was very upset.

"Her concern was more about the family and the impact on the family," he continued.

"The HSE appointed a liaison officer who came to the house and I recall sitting there with one of my daughters and myself and Julie and this liaison officer and it had all been so surreal up until then but to have someone come into in your house and say, 'I am here on behalf of the HSE and you have been let down and you are part of this'.

"All three of us were crying our eyes out."

Julie passed away the day before brave Emma Mhic Mhathuna, who became one of the public faces of the CervicalCheck controversy.

Tony said that his family has lost their "nucleus" following Julie's passing.

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