Warning by distraught mother on danger of discarded needles
Sally Ann with children Maria and William where the needles were found (Image: Paddy Barrett)

Warning by distraught mother on danger of discarded needles

A LOCAL mother is appealing to parents to make their children aware of the dangers of used needles, after her four-year-old son was pricked with one while playing in Fettercairn.

The incident occurred last Sunday afternoon on the Fettercairn Road, when Sally Ann Flynn’s son William was out playing with his older brother and their friend.

“They were out playing together, and before I knew it, the children came in screaming and crying that my son had been poked with a needle,” Ms Flynn told The Echo.

“We were looking at him, at his arm, and we couldn’t see anything until we looked closer and saw what looked like a nettle sting. When we examined it, we saw the needle mark.

“The children said they’d found a needle with brown stuff in it on top of an electrical box. I got really anxious, rang the hospital and they said to come down immediately.”

Ms Flynn’s son had to receive vaccines and undergo blood tests and will have to do so again twice over the next six months, because if he picked up a blood-borne virus from the syringe it could take up to six months for it to show.

“They’re three young children, so I’ll never know the full story of how the needle got jammed into his arm,” added Ms Flynn.

“But it’s done now, and we just have to suffer the outcome. I actually can’t describe how I feel . . . I’m just devastated that it happened and in fear of the outcome.

“My son’s only four, so he doesn’t have much understanding of what’s happened and how he’ll have to go into the hospital for tests and vaccines in three months and in six months.”

The location in Fettercairn where the needles were found

Ms Flynn said she’s speaking out about her experience as she wants other parents to make their children aware of the dangers of used needles, and to prevent another family from having a similar experience.

“I’d never talked to my children about needles,” she explained.

“I’m just devastated about what happened, but I want to make other mothers aware – we need to speak to our children.

“I just want to make people aware that it’s out there, and that it’s happened to us.

“They’ve played on that road hundreds of times, and you never think that danger is lurking there.

“This only happened one time – but all it takes is one time.”

While Ms Flynn and her family are still anxious about what the future holds for her young son, she said he appears to be in good spirits and in good health despite what happened.

“It’s terrifying, not knowing what the outcome will be and having to play a waiting game, but he seems in good health all in all,” she added.

There are a number of needle exchanges in Tallaght provided by local drug services, including CARP in Killinarden, St Aengus’ in Tymon, JADD in Jobstown and HSE Outreach services. Mick Duff, manager of the St Aengus’ Drug Project and a local councillor, emphasised the importance of used needles being disposed of responsibly.

“Everyone who operates harm reduction and needle exchange services is at pains saying to clients to safely dispose of their needles,” he said.

“We have a small personal container that they can carry around with them. We are advising people to be careful, and most users are responsible.

“We have a very high rate of returns of people bringing their needles back – used needles can be brought back to any of the needle exchanges in Tallaght.

“There’s no justification for disposing of a used needle in an area where children are playing.

“Needle stick injuries are very, very rare, but I do believe we need to raise awareness of the situation.

“We need to get a campaign going for people to responsibly dispose of their needles.

“Between the HSE, the drug projects and the task force, we need to get together to make sure this doesn’t happen again, and that people are aware of the dangers.”

If you come across drug paraphernalia, it can be reported to any of the aforementioned drug projects or South Dublin County Council on 414 9000, who will safely remove it.