A HOMELESS mother has claimed her gravely ill son will be denied a place on a liver transplant waiting list because she has no permanent address.
Helen Lynch, from Tullamore, Co Offaly, says her son Charlie - who turned six yesterday - 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 said.
"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.
The boy's consultant, Professor Billy Bourke, also wrote to 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 cannot 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."
Ms Lynch said she has been on the housing waiting list for three years. She said she has been unable to find any landlord who will take rent allowance. "He is a happy little child. He never complains but he can't do what normal children would do," his mother said.
"He has fluid around his belly and this causes his belly to stick out."
The youngster was first diagnosed in hospital when he was one month old. Ms Lynch lived in Dublin close to Crumlin Hospital while Charlie was a baby, but moved back to Tullamore when he was three when he no longer needed to attend hospital as regularly.
However, the rent on their home in Clara, outside Tullamore, increased when the lease was due for renewal.
"I became homeless in the summer. I was living in my mother's house but the doctors told me it was not suitable for Charlie," Ms Lynch said.
Dermot Mahon, senior executive officer in Offaly County Council's housing department, said officials are currently dealing with a waiting list of 1,850.
"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.
Ms McDonagh, of Offaly Traveller Movement, has met with the medical team in Crumlin Hospital and has been advocating on their behalf.
She said the family needs a permanent address to control infections and for recuperation after surgery.
"This is the worst case we've come across because it's a matter of life or death," she said.