| 17.4°C Dublin

Mum told Kerri (15) must wait until 2029 for crucial MRI scan

Close

Carmel Sheehan with her daughter Kerri (15)

Carmel Sheehan with her daughter Kerri (15)

Carmel Sheehan with her daughter Kerri (15)

A mother of a child whose MRI was delayed due to Covid-19 has said she was "left stunned" after being told they will now have to wait until 2029 for the scan.

Carmel Sheehan (39), from Kilcock, Co Kildare, is a full-time carer for her daughter Kerri (15), who has Down syndrome and juvenile arthritis.

If Kerri was to wait until 2029 for the MRI with general anaesthetic, she would be 24 and no longer in child health services.

On Thursday, her mother took to social media to write to new Health Minister Stephen Donnelly after she was told it would be a nine-year wait for the procedure.

Pain

Last night, Ms Sheehan still hadn't received a response.

She wrote: "@DonnellyStephen so I've just been on to Crumlin Hospital wondering when my daughter's MRI will be done, which we had a date for (August) pre-Covid.... To be told our new date is 2029!!!!

"This better be addressed asap. There is no way I will stand for this, no way."

Ms Sheehan told the Herald Kerri takes the drug Humira to help with the pain associated with arthritis.

But this medication can cause serious side-effects including cancer, she said.

Kerri has to be regularly monitored by blood tests to ensure her health isn't negatively affected.

Kerri is also meant to undergo MRIs every six to nine months to help monitor the drug, Ms Sheehan said.

"The drug is really important for Kerri. It controls the arthritis," Ms Sheehan said.

"She's meant to get an MRI to see if the drug is working or not. She's been on it since last September and we don't know if it's working or not.

"Kerri is non-verbal and puts up with so much pain. We need this MRI to know if the drug is working because she can't tell me.

"We were told in January the MRI would take place in August. I totally understood a bit of a delay was likely due to Covid-19, but a nine-year wait?

"It's appalling. I am actually stunned."

Children with Down syndrome are at an increased risk of developing arthritis and Ms Sheehan said a general anaesthetic was a necessity for Kerri as she couldn't cope with the procedure unless she's put in a sleep-like state.

"It's a mess. We have two paediatric rheumatologists in Ireland, the lowest rate in Europe. We need six for a country our size," Ms Sheehan said.

"There's no full-time pain consultant specialist in Crumlin. If Kerri is in pain, I've no one to refer her to.

"It's a case of she has to just stay in pain. We were seen in January and Kerri was assessed.

"They suspected the arthritis was more in her joints than they'd previously thought. I asked for a date for the MRI and they told me it would be around nine months, so that should have been the end of August.

"I couldn't believe it when I rang Crumlin on Thursday and was told it would be 2029.

"I couldn't believe my ears. I got off the phone and rang the MRI section. They repeated it - 2029.

"Kerri is 15 now so she won't be in Crumlin then, she'll be an adult. In the meantime, I'm expected to pump the drugs into her without knowing if they are working."

A spokesman for Children's Health Ireland (CHI) said: "CHI regrets the cancellation of any in-patient and day case procedure that patients and their families endure.

"CHI is working closely with the HSE in relation to planning and delivering care in the new normal and in the context of the overall service continuity plan for the health system."