Monday 19 August 2019

State urged to fund life-changing Parkinson's surgery

Conor Kane

PATIENTS who suffer from Parkinson's disease face an anxious wait to see if life-changing surgery will be funded by health authorities here.

There have been three examples of deep-brain stimulation surgery in Ireland, all of them at the Mater Private Hospital in Dublin, and all carried out with positive results.

But since January, there have been no such procedures in Ireland, and patients have had to travel to the UK for the operation.

According to the Parkinson's Association of Ireland, a lobbying campaign is currently being carried out in an attempt to get the surgery funded in Ireland on a permanent basis.

The three operations performed in the Mater were paid for by the pharmaceutical industry, according to the association. The procedure involves a probe being placed in the brain and electrical stimulation being provided to the central nervous system.

Parkinson's Association chairwoman Una Anderson-Ryan said: "If the State can't provide an operation for you in your own country, they'll pay for you to go and have it somewhere else.

"But obviously, from a patient's point of view, it's better if it's done in your own environment."

The operation can give a patient 10 years without symptoms before a follow-up procedure is required.

Sean Buggy from Carlow, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's over four years ago, says that his life is now completely different since having the surgery performed in Bristol.

The operation has given him "a whole new lease of life," he said. "I'm 90pc symptom-free."

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