Wednesday 26 September 2018

A constant rush to hospital

Sorcha Crowley

The father of a four-year-old girl who suffers from a severe form of epilepsy fears the lack of ambulances in Sligo is putting his daughter's life in danger.

Lucia Kelly suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a genetic and rare form of epilepsy, since she was nine months old.

Her father Brian, told The Sligo Champion that her condition triggers up to six severe epileptic seizures a year and Lucia has to be hospitalised to bring them under control.

He said that about 20 per cent of the time there's no ambulance available to bring her to hospital.

"We have to put her in the back seat of the car, while she is fitting, and drive to Sligo University Hospital," he said.

"Her seizures can last up to 40-60 minutes. They don't stop without medical intervention and sometimes even with medical intervention it's very difficult," he said.

"We've been lucky, I've been home the last three times she's had a seizure, but what happens next when I'm not there?" he asked.

"It's like living with a time bomb. When the ambulance is there, they're there in five minutes but we've had ambulances sent to us from as far away as Ballina or Manorhamilton," he said.

When that happens, Brian knows not to wait for the ambulance but rushes Lucia to hospital himself, breaking all the red lights along the way.

"We have no choice but to break the law by speeding through the town.

"We have no option. There are other people who wait the 40 minutes but by the time the ambulance arrives they could be dead," he said.

The family have written complaints to the HSE about their fears but "they just say they will deploy the nearest ambulance available" said Brian.

"The ambulance crew are pulling their hair out. There's only ever two ambulances available in the whole county at any one time," he said.

"Once when we pulled up in the car, there were two ambulances sitting in the grounds delayed in the handovers - they're taking up to an hour and a half and they're only meant to take 20 minutes," he said.

The Sligo Champion was still waiting for a response from the HSE yesterday (Monday).

Sligo Champion