‘You would need a heart of stone not to be moved by Ava’s situation’
Ava with her mother Suzanne

‘You would need a heart of stone not to be moved by Ava’s situation’

TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has responded in the Dáil to concerns around the long waiting lists for children with Spina Bifida and scoliosis on long orthopaedic waiting lists awaiting corrective surgery.

Parents of 82 children in Ireland have been calling on the Government and pleading for immediate action to fast-track appointments for their children waiting on scoliosis and orthopaedic surgery.

As recently reported in The Echo, one of the parents who are calling for action is Suzanne Cahill from Old Bawn, who’s 11-year-old daughter Ava has been on a waiting list since June 2020.

Ava has Spina Bifida and hydrocephalus and since birth has had no feeling in both of her legs from the knee down – resulting in Ava being totally dependent on a wheelchair for independence. Ava is currently waiting on corrective surgery known as Grice procedure, which will help to correct her feet which are turned in as a result of spina bifida.

Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday, February 1, Gino Kenny TD asked the Taoiseach if he had seen the reports about Ava and the other children who have been waiting more than a year and a half for corrective surgery and asked if the Government could address this urgently with resources.

“You would need a heart of stone not to be moved by Ava’s situation. There are other children like Ava in Ireland waiting for corrective surgery,” said Deputy Kenny.

“There is a crisis at the moment in orthopaedic surgery. Even the top leading surgeon in the country has said that the care provided is inadequate.

“He spoke with huge passion at the Joint Committee on Health last November about children who are suffering unnecessarily. The Government has a responsibility to address this with resources and not let these children suffer needlessly.”

In his response, Micheál Martin said that “very substantial funding” has been provided for the waiting lists to be fast tracked but says that Covid-19 had a significant impact on the waiting lists throughout 2020 and 2021.

He commented: “There are plans to increase capacity in the existing orthopaedic centres and at Cappagh, the national orthopaedic hospital, to support paediatric orthopaedic services.

“That will form part of the 2022 waiting list action plan. We are going to have to concentrate very quickly on those who are waiting too long for urgent surgery.”

The parents of the children who are waiting for surgery established the Paediatric Advocacy Group and have recently set up a website called ‘Páistí in Pain’ highlighting each child’s story and how they are in deteriorating health due to the waiting times.

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