'We need a long-term solution' - mum of Dublin boy who died in UK hospital waiting for transplant
The mother of a young boy flown to the UK for a heart transplant - but who later died - has warned that new temporary night-time air ambulance cover "doesn't go far enough to look after Ireland's children".
Maria Coyne's son, Gavin, died waiting for a transplant in a UK hospital, hundreds of kilometres away from his home in Clarehall, Dublin, in February last year.
Ms Coyne has been campaigning for better healthcare for child transplant patients.
It has now emerged a new multi-million euro two-year contract to provide night cover for the HSE to transport patients to the UK has been installed.
Following a tendering process, Air Alliance, a UK-based service, has been awarded the contract until a long-term solution is found.
However, Ms Coyne said a temporary service "falls far short" of what Irish children "deserve".
"I want to see a longer term solution. We're talking about a lot of money being invested in this plan," she said.
"What's the point in temporary moves like this? It could be a waste of money. If we could get someone in who can do the job full stop, from now on and not a temporary solution. If we can't provide that service in this country, we need someone to come in on a permanent basis from another country."
It took 10 days for Gavin's body to be returned home by ferry and the family were left to pay for his removal from Belfast Port to Dublin.
The family also had to pay for flights back and forth to see him while he was being treated in Newcastle.
After her son's death, Ms Coyne called for the Air Corps - which had only been picking children up during the day and evening - to have extended hours and to be there for any child who did not survive.
The mother said that what her family had been through had been "very traumatic" and she wanted a longer term solution for children in need of transplants, and their families. "Gavin had to travel alone and we didn't know if he was going to get to Newcastle alive," she said.