A TEENAGE girl will be left paralysed if she does not get urgent surgery on her spine.
Lauren Browne (17) told the Herald that, despite the seriousness of her situation, she is not even on the year-long waiting list for an operation.
Lauren suffers from idiopathic scoliosis and is struggling to get on the list for the life-changing procedure at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, due to severe budget cuts imposed by the HSE.
The operation would drastically improve Lauren's quality of life and the teen runs the risk of becoming paralysed without it.
"I'm not even on the waiting list. I'm on the waiting list for the waiting list. My surgeon told me that I cannot wait a year. My vertebrae is rotating so rapidly that I have the risk of being paralysed if I wait for the surgery that long."
Lauren's quality of life has deteriorated since the diagnosis and she hit out at the HSE for what she feels is its lack of concern.
Lauren said: "The HSE just don't seem to care. Our cases are not qualified as life threatening, but I have no idea how they don't consider this to be life threatening. They have no idea what it's like for me.
"When I was told I would have to wait at least a year, I nearly started crying. It was horrible to hear," she said.
Lauren, from Stradbally in Waterford, lives in daily fear of paralysis and says the waiting list is unnecessarily long.
"There are 67 surgeries on the list that have dates for their procedures, and then there are over 100 people on the waiting list. I don't even know how many people are on my list. If you compare that to the number of people in the population, it's really not a lot."
She is concerned about her upcoming Leaving Certificate year and fears her hopes of studying Marine Science in NUI Galway will be dashed because of all the school she has missed due to doctors' appointments.
Lauren has become painfully self-conscious about her physical appearance and avoids going out too much for fear of the looks she'll get.
"I don't really go out much these days, I'm too self conscious. My friends don't even notice any more, but I'm aware when I meet new people that they are looking at me. My back sticks out and I essentially have a hunchback."
Lauren dreams of the life she could return to if she undergoes surgery sooner. "I would be so happy. I wouldn't have to miss any school; I could just get on with it. I could even return to some sports. I could just go back to normal, because I am not normal any more."
A spokesperson for Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin could not be reached for comment by the Herald.