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Parents' disgust at the HSE amid death of Aine (5)

THE grieving parents of a young girl who died of suspected meningitis last month have been upset further by an HSE statement.

Caroline and Matt Kennedy, from Carnew, Co Wicklow, lost their five-year-old daughter Aine last month.

However, they claim their grief has been compounded by a statement issued by the HSE, which they believe questioned their actions as parents.

The couple said they did everything in their power to save their little girl - but feel remarks in a HSE statement undermined this.

The statement, which was carried in a number of media outlets, said if parents got to a meningitis patient quickly enough they would be able to save them.

"It came across as if we had neglected our child. Anyone who knows us knows we went above and beyond for Aine. Everywhere she went, we went. I thought it was a very unfair statement. They should stop and think about the parents in these cases," the couple said.

Speaking about the reports, Caroline said: "This is heartbreaking to read for us as we did everything in our power to get medical attention as quick as possible."

Following Aine's death, the HSE issued a statement on April 30, in which they confirmed the death of a child in Wexford Hospital due to suspected meningitis.

The lengthy statement included advice from Public Health Specialist Dr John Cuddihy.

"If the disease is diagnosed early and treated promptly, most people make a complete recovery. We feel it is important to focus attention on the symptoms of the infection so that parents and the public in general know what signs to look out for," it said.

Caroline and Matt found their daughter at 7.15am on Monday, April 26 suffering a seizure. They rushed her to Gorey to meet an ambulance coming from Wexford. The Wexford General team decided to transfer Aine to Crumlin's Children's Hospital. On the trip to Dublin, Aine suffered a cardiac arrest but was resuscitated.

Sadly Aine passed away on April 27. This is the second tragedy to befall the couple, as their daughter Aoife (5) died in a traffic accident in 2006.

A protest march to protect the services of Wexford General Hospital will take place on Saturday afternoon at 2pm from Crescent Quay in Wexford town.