AN Irish family who had to take out a €30,000 bank loan to pay for a two-year-old's operation has accused the HSE of reneging on a pledge of support.
Josh Butler (2) will have pioneering ear surgery in Italy tomorrow - but only because his family were able to raise a €37,500 deposit just days before the procedure.
Josh's grandmother, Celine Walsh, told the Herald the operation would have been cancelled if they had not come up with the money.
The family took out a bank loan of €30,000 after the HSE indicated at the 11th hour it would not make the payment.
"We would sell everything we owned so Josh could have the operation and hopefully get his hearing," she said.
"But we are shocked and appalled that any Irish family could be treated like this."
Josh's mother, Chloe, from Midleton, Co Cork, had campaigned for 18 months to secure the surgery for her son, who was born deaf.
"It is his only chance to hear and we don't want him to be deprived of that," Chloe said.
The mother of two admitted she had "no idea" how the family would fund the second payment of €37,500, due when the operation is completed.
If the operation is successful Josh will be able to hear.
Chloe and her mother Celine last year received written acknowledgement from the HSE that the surgery could go ahead.
It was to be supported under the Treatment Abroad Scheme.
Last weekend the family asked the HSE to make the deposit lodgement. However, they were informed treatment in a private hospital would not be paid for by the HSE if it could be carried out in a public hospital.
The shocked family contacted senior HSE officials and Health Minister Leo Varadkar, but were left with no alternative but to pay the money themselves.
Celine said they were acutely aware that Josh's surgery was the last planned by Dr Colletti before he retires.
When the Herald contacted the HSE for a statement, it said: "Approvals for treatment abroad are issued for specified public hospitals providing treatment which is not available in Ireland.
"The scheme does not generally provide for treatment in a private facility if the service is available in a public hospital."