The father of a young man who suffered a catastrophic brain injury in a car crash has blasted the "disgraceful" Irish healthcare system after he chose to go to Germany rather than wait for treatment here.
Reinhard Schaler, from Drumcondra, Dublin, took the drastic decision to relocate after being told in 2013 that his son, Padraig (26), faced a 12-month wait to receive care at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire.
Padraig's life changed forever in June 2013, when he was involved in a collision with a van in Cape Cod, during a J1 visit to the US.
Rather than wait a full year for treatment, Reinhard instead uprooted his son to Germany. Padraig qualified as a German citizen under his father's birthright and was entitled to universal healthcare - and his father swears his condition improved dramatically.
"It's disgraceful we had to get on a plane to go back to my home in Germany to get Padraig the care he needed, when he needed it, to stop him being stuck on a waiting list," Reinhard said.
"Anyone who is from another European country will do that, jump on a plane if they are sick, if their family is sick, because of the lack of rehabilitation in Ireland."
The only way Padraig, who has been rendered locked in his own body, can now communicate with Reinhard (58), his mother Pat and sisters Laura and Maria is via a specialised computer tablet.
"But he's still the same young man. Warm, intelligent, with a dry wit - he's just not able to walk, talk or move," Reinhard said.