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Baby Lee suffers as vital tongue op delayed four times

A seven-month-old baby has had appointments for vital surgery cancelled four times in the past three months.

Lee Murphy's parents are at their wits' end as he cannot sleep at night because of a condition known as ankyloglossia, where his tongue is tied to the bottom of his mouth, affecting his ability to eat, breathe and sleep.

His mother Sebrina, from Sundale in Tallaght, explains how they have to take it in turns to stay up with Lee every night.

"I spend the whole time panicking. He makes a sound like as if he's going to choke. It happens when he's lying down, but it can also happen when he's sitting up," she said.


Lee was born with the condition, which is already hampering his feeding and his breathing, and which will affect his speech in the future.

"I'd never heard of this until Lee was diagnosed and then my dad told me he had it too. He said his tongue snapped when he was about 14 and he'd never forget the pain of it. I don't want that for Lee," said Sebrina.

In Lee's case "he can't move his tongue around his mouth, so he can't have a soother to calm him at night because he can't keep it in his mouth".

"When he eats he just swallows food without being able to move it around his mouth. He has two new teeth the skin under his tongue is going white as if it's catching in the teeth."

Sebrina was given her first appointment for the relatively simple operation to free Lee's tongue last November, but just before the operation she got a letter saying it was cancelled.

"I was given a new date for January 19, which I confirmed, but then I got another letter saying it had been changed to January 14.

"After that I got a phone call to say that appointment was cancelled and that Lee would have the operation on January 6. Last week I got a letter saying it had been cancelled again and I was given another date on February 4.

"Every time they told us the doctor was not there on the day. Why did they give us the appointments at all if the doctor was not going to be there?"

She says the procedure is relatively simple and would be done as a day surgery case.

"Lee would go in in the morning and be out by the afternoon."

This week Sebrina lodged an official complaint with the hospital and is awaiting their reply.

Niall McNally, director of operations at the Tallaght Hospital, has said the delay is due to internal reorganisation which has affected operating lists.