Mother's plea for a wheelchair for her son

Mother's plea for a wheelchair for her son

Liam Lynch, from Mallow, with his mother Grainne at Cork University Hospital. Liam will have to have skin grafts and needs a new powerchair to cater for his growth. Picture: David Keane

A CORK teen has been hospitalised and will have to undergo skin graft surgery because the HSE couldn’t provide a new powerchair due to funding restrictions.

Mallow teenager Liam Lynch, who requires the motorised wheelchair, has been in hospital since January 19 and has missed his mock Junior Certificate examinations as a result.

The HSE said funding restrictions mean it cannot process all applications for powerchairs immediately.

Liam has needed a wheelchair since the age of seven when he was diagnosed with a tumour in his spine and scoliosis.

His mum has been appealing for a new powerchair, to accommodate his growth, for more than six months.

“He’s had a powerchair for the past four or five years and he’s outgrown it,” said his mother, Grainne Lynch.

“Liam needs a special moulded seat and his occupational therapist recently said it needs a moulded back because of his scoliosis.

“We’ve been waiting months for a new chair and as a consequence, Liam has suffered stage four pressure sores,” she added.

A stage four pressure sore can cause extensive damage as it reaches into muscle and bones on occasion.

Liam Lynch from Mallow, at Cork University Hospital. Picture: David Keane.
Liam Lynch from Mallow, at Cork University Hospital. Picture: David Keane.

Mum Gráinne added: “It’s so frustrating, he has to have surgery next week, all because he couldn’t get a new chair, because his case wasn’t deemed urgent enough.

“We’ve been fighting for this for so long, his occupational therapist has been making his case again and again to the HSE but they just wouldn’t listen.

“The waiting lists for wheelchairs and supports are just crazy in Cork, it’s almost impossible to get any sort of support,” she said.

“Liam has a wet room but he’s also on the list to get a shower chair and, again, we’re waiting a long time for that, he’s way down the list.

“Even to get a manual chair, in case his powerchair broke down, he’s on the bottom of the list for that too.”

While a new chair would cost around €10,000, Ms Lynch said the cost of Liam’s surgery and hospital stay will far exceed that.

“He shouldn’t be in here, it shouldn’t have come to this. We’re very frustrated,” she admitted.

“The hospital costs will run into the tens of thousands.”

With surgery scheduled for Tuesday, Ms Lynch said they hope to have a chair for Liam so they can work on his use of it post-op.

In a statement, the HSE said it wished Liam a speedy recovery and were very saddened to hear that he has been unwell.

The statement added: “In general terms, even once an application for funding for equipment is approved, there may be a lead time before manufacturers can deliver an order, and unfortunately, this is beyond our control.

“We sincerely regret that the funding available to us for this type of equipment is limited, and does not meet demand. Because of the significant demands on the budget for equipment, not all applications can be approved immediately — although in cases where there is an acute urgent need, approvals may be made within a very short time frame.

“Again, we sincerely regret the fact that there can be a waiting time for equipment, and this waiting time is due to the fact that demands on the available budget are very high.”

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