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Saturday 16 December 2017

Brave Darragh back at school after 15-month surgery wait

Darragh Cahill, who spent more than 15 months on a waiting list for surgery to correct his scoliosis, with his mum Claire
Darragh Cahill, who spent more than 15 months on a waiting list for surgery to correct his scoliosis, with his mum Claire

A courageous boy who captured the hearts of the nation as he battled a painful spinal condition is now back at school.

Darragh Cahill (7), from Kilkenny - one of the waiting list patients featured on RTE Investigates - was finally operated on in November.

"He was on the waiting list in Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin for more than 15 months for surgery to correct his scoliosis - a twisting of the spine - which was deteriorating," said Darragh's mother, Claire.

"He had deteriorated to the point where he had trouble breathing, as it pressed on his internal organs.

"It was very invasive surgery. But the decrease in his lung function cannot be reversed.

"At the last reading it was at just 70pc as the delay in getting the surgery took its toll.

"He also faces several more operations and clinic visits until he is a young man due to having early-onset scoliosis.

"His weakened lungs leave him vulnerable to infection and although [he is] back at school he sometimes has to finish in the early afternoon.

"Darragh has been fitted with rods and these can cause complications, while they also have to be readjusted and lengthened every six months.

"If he did not have the surgery he would not have survived into his 20s and 30s because of damage to internal organs."

Before, he found it difficult to keep down food but this has now stopped.

Hidden

Ms Cahill spoke out as Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted there was no attempt to cover up or massage hospital waiting lists.

Mr Kenny said that, while a "perception" has been created that 49,000 public patients have been "hidden" from official figures, it "is not true".

"The counting of the list has been the same since 2002," he said, pointing out that it was initially established during Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin's time as health minister.

In the face of a barrage of Dail criticism, Health Minister Simon Harris said last night that he knew about the methodology used to compile waiting lists, but he has asked the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) to review the situation.

"There's nothing new here. Did I know and did a lot of people in this House, who have been talking about health for a long time, know that when people have an appointment for their procedure they don't appear on the waiting list? I did," he said.

"Did I know the size of that? No, I didn't. 0Did I know there was a separate list? No, I didn't."

Mr Kenny said he found the RTE Investigates programme "difficult to watch", but added it "is very necessary that these programmes and patients' stories in 2017 be heard".

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