THE father of a toddler who requires surgery for a rare heart defect has spoken of how his two-year-old daughter was turned away from hospital on the day of her scheduled operation.
Eoghan Sheehan said his family is "emotionally drained" after being informed on arrival at Our Lady's Hospital for Children in Crumlin that the theatre rooms were closed due to "budgetary cutbacks", the second cancellation in a matter of weeks.
"Charlotte required heart surgery at three months old to correct a congenital heart defect (AVSD) that she was born with," Eoghan said.
"Back in July, we found out that it was necessary for Charlotte to have a follow up surgery and this was then scheduled for late August."
Charlotte, who will celebrate her third birthday in December, has Down's Syndrome and spent the first eight months of her life in hospital.
This latest surgery - to remove extra tissue growing below one of her heart valves that is progressively restricting blood flow - is a rare occurrence and needs to be caried out as soon as possible.
On arrival at the hospital two weeks ago, the Sligo-based Sheehan family were told that their daughter would not be having her surgery that day due to "clinical reasons", no beds in the ICU unit due to unexpectedly-long patient stays.
"This is not something that I wish to complain about at all," Eoghan said. "If an emergency surgery for a child needs to happen, we were quite happy to stand aside. We were one of those emergency situations at one time."
But it was yesterday's cancellation that the Sheehan family found "unacceptable and upsetting".
"This week’s postponement was due to the operating theatres being closed for budgetary reasons, this in itself whilst disappointing would be acceptable if it was not for the fact that we were allowed to make all our arrangements and travel up to Dublin in preparation for Charlotte's surgery the day before," he said.
"This theatre closure would have been planned before we ever left our home in Sligo."
Travelling from Sligo town, Eoghan and his wife made arrangements for their six year old son Alistair to stay with his grandparents, who live an hour's drive away.
They made living and work arrangements in Dublin while they planned ahead for Charlotte's surgery and subsequent recovery time.
"All of the arrangements we made and favours we asked for will have to be made and asked for again," said Eoghan.
A spokesperson for Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin told independent.ie that there was "an administrative error where a patient was admitted on the wrong day for their surgery on Monday, 7th September, 2015."
"The hospital is aware of this error which is being investigated and has apologised to the family."