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Little Emily loses eye to cancer... but in hospital cuts she may have died

LITTLE Emily Dunne has lost an eye to cancer at the age of just 18 months but her parents consider her "lucky".

They think she's lucky because she got her operation at Temple Street Hospital before the cutbacks that are forcing the rolling closures of theatres in the hospital.

The surgeon who operated on Emily, Professor Michael O'Keefe, has hit out at the closures, saying babies and children just like Emily could die as a result of the money-saving.

The eminent eye surgeon said certain cancers are much more prevalent in children, and if not treated on time are almost certain to be fatal.

"The sooner these cancers are treated the better, because once they leave the eye it is curtains for the child," said Prof O'Keefe.

The cancers that Prof O'Keefe is referring to are called retinoblastomas, an often painless condition that makes it even more deadly because it can grow unnoticed in the eye.

Sometimes it is noticed when a photograph of the child is taken and one eye shows a red reflection from the retina, which is normal, but the second eye gives back a white reflection.

Emily's dad Robert explained how they first had suspicions that there could be something wrong with their first-born child.

"It was my wife Debbie who saw a kind of a glare coming from the back of one Emily's eyes and we went to the doctor about it," said Robert.

"From there we saw a consultant and he recommended we see Prof O'Keefe. When he diagnosed the retinoblastoma he said it was covering 70pc of her eye and it was important to act quickly. He had to remove her eye the next day," he added.

"That was on January 19. It was horrifying and devastating to think that we could lose our child, and I'd hate to think of what other families could be facing if they do not get the prompt treatment that Emily got," Robert explained.

Commenting on the planned theatre closures, Robert said it was "disgraceful". And Prof O'Keefe said the cuts did not make any sense because he found it difficult to see how money could be saved in this way.

"The staff are still being paid and the only thing you might save on are disposables and instruments."


One of the four surgical operation theatres at Temple Street is to be closed on a rolling basis from this week.

The hospital said the move was part of a cost-containment plan that was agreed by its board to address a significant budget deficit.

"In order to remain within its allocated budget for 2012, the Children's University Hospital is implementing rolling theatre closures with immediate effect. This will result in the closure of one in four of hospital theatres."