A CORK mum has said the lack of paediatric anaesthetists at Cork University Hospital is denying her daughter with special needs access to an MRI to determine the progression of her arthritis.
Jackie Connolly said her 12-year-old daughter Katie has sensory issues, making her unable to tolerate the noise from the MRI machine.
She said that hospital policy requires that a child be sedated while undergoing an MRI but that service is currently unavailable to her.
“The maximum dose of sedation given to any child is 20mls,” said Jackie. “This is unlikely to work if your child is over 20kgs. Basically, unless your child is 20kgs or less, the MRI service is unavailable to them. The only way of tracking the progression of Katie’s juvenile arthritis is through an MRI because it shows up more than in blood tests.”
She said that the restrictions placed on Katie have made it impossible to determine the extent of her arthritis.
“An MRI is the only way to check the progression of juvenile arthritis accurately. Katie also attends Crumlin Children’s Hospital, but the waiting list for an MRI there is three years.
“We have tried everywhere in Cork, but unfortunately there is nothing in Cork available to us.”
Jackie expressed concerns about the uncertainty around her daughter’s condition: “The point is that this affects all children over 20kgs, regardless of whether or not they have a disability,” she said.
“I understand that this service is not available due to a lack of funding but we don’t know how this is going to affect Katie. In years to come when she is sitting down in pain from her arthritis I’ll be thinking I should have done more to prevent this.
“You can’t tell how good or bad the arthritis is. Not even the doctors are able to tell how it is affecting Katie’s bones. Currently, they are unable to tell if this is eating away at her bones.”
Jackie said she has spent a lot of time fighting for improved health services.
“We are taking on another fight now — with the HSE essentially,” she said.
Jackie said that while she is not admitting defeat it has been a struggle: “The HSE is a huge organisation but I am just one person.”
The mother-of-one emphasised that she was speaking out about their situation to help other children too.
“This is not just for Katie. The situation is frustrating for everyone. It’s frustrating for the other kids who need MRIs but it’s also frustrating for the doctors carrying them out.
“Katie should be getting this done every six months but even if it was once a year it would be better than every three years.”